Anton Corbijn's 'Life' Tells The Story Of The Shoot That Made James Dean

Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan star together in a surprisingly stirring biopic

The relationship between a photographer and a celebrity subject is a curious one. Part collaborative, part parasitic; part intimate, part exploitative. And then there’s the question of who’s exploiting whom: the photographer hoping to sell glimpses of the star’s private life for a quick buck? Or the star inviting the snapper into his confidence to use him in his own quest for glory?

As a rock-photographer-turned-director, Anton Corbijn – Control (2007), A Most Wanted Man (2014) – is in an excellent position to cast light on the nuances of this dynamic in his fourth feature film, Life, which explores the genesis of a series of photographs that Dennis Stock took of James Dean in early 1955 for Life magazine. A book of the photos – which capture Dean bumbling around in sunny LA, rainy New York and at his aunt and uncle’s house in rural Indiana – is being published to coincide with the film’s release and the 60th anniversary of Dean’s death.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It might seem like a slight topic for a drama, though perhaps less so given the obsession with celebrity and privacy in the current age. Corbijn also has two powerful leads working for his cause: Robert Pattinson as Stock, an interesting choice for a young man so painfully familiar with what it feels like to be on the other side of the lens; and model-cum-actor Dane DeHaan as Dean, himself a destined-for-greatness actor who plays Dean as less of a heartthrob, more of a weirdo, and all the more interesting for it.

Most Popular

Of course, the fact that Dean would be killed, aged 24, in a car crash later that same year, after he’d just filmed Rebel Without a Cause, the role that would make him an icon, loads everything with a certain poignancy. But Corbijn’s understated direction and measured pace (a final voiceover is the only misstep), Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s sublime cinematography and Owen Pallett’s sophisticated jazz soundtrack make for an incredibly beautiful, elegant piece of film-making that manages to be intriguing and thoughtful on its own quiet terms.

Life is out on 25 September 

***
MORE FILM & TV:

Connery At 85: A Look Back At His Coolest Moments
Rare Vintage Footage of Marilyn Monroe
Inside Paul Newman's Secret Life As A Race Car Driver
***

What do you think?

In order to hide his Polio from the public, Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived in New York via a secret extension of Grand Central Terminal underneath the Waldorf Astoria hotel. His abandoned train car—which is still there today—transported the president and his limousine directly up into the hotel's garage so he could come and go unnoticed.
Culture
Share
17 Photos Of The Most Eerie Abandoned Sites In The World
And in some cases, actually haunted
Snapchat Glasses
Culture
Share
Snapchat Is Bringing Out Sunglasses That Record Video
​Is this the end of days?​
Culture
Share
The Making Of David Bowie's Lost Soul Album
​How it got made—and why it was shelved—from those that were there​
Drake
Culture
Share
Drake Has Released His Own Action Film
​​A mix of Indecent Proposal, The Bourne Identity and Taken... ​apparently ​
Culture
Share
Nirvana's 'Nevermind' Baby Has Recreated His Cover Shot 25 Years Later
​"I said to the photographer, 'Let's do it naked.' But he thought that would be weird​"
TV
Share
Watch The Trailer For Matt Damon And Ben Affleck's New TV Series
​​It's a dystopian drama, and it looks surprisingly good​
Culture
Share
Is This The Worst Plane Seat Assignment Ever?
Hello, nightmares
Culture
Share
Watch Two Cars Delicately Drift In Sync
It's pretty mesmerising
Culture
Share
5 Things Every Man Needs To Know About This Week
​Your cultural(ish) guide to the week ahead​​
TV
Share
Game of Thrones Actors are Also Peeved About Their Characters Randomly Getting Killed
The man behind Doran Martell opens up about his one big moment last season