Zou Bisou: James Dean

James Dean in Giant

James Dean in Giant (1956) // Zou Bisou is a special feature at Returning Videotapes that celebrates the lives of artists

This is the third time Dean’s birthday is celebrated on Returning Videotapes. And so, as much has been said already, here’s some of my favourite photos of Jimmy, and a particularly moving letter from Rebel Without a Cause screenwriter, Stewart Stern. Some of the pictures and GIFS are well known, others not so much; some are heartwarming, others mouthwatering – and others are pretty funny. I hope this reminds you of why we still adore him.

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For it was rare. And it was beautiful. And we thank God and nature for sending it in front of our eyes.

October 12th, 1955
A star goes wild in the places beyond air — a dark star born of coldness and invisible. It hits the upper edges of our atmosphere and look! It is seen! It flames and arcs and dazzles. It goes out in ash and memory. But its after-image remains in our eyes to be looked at again and again. For it was rare. And it was beautiful. And we thank God and nature for sending it in front of our eyes.

So few things blaze. So little is beautiful. Our world doesn’t seem equipped to contain its brilliance too long. Ecstasy is only recognizable when one has experienced pain. Beauty only exists when set against ugliness. Peace is not appreciated without war ahead of it. How we wish that life could support only the good. But it vanishes when its opposite no longer exists as a setting. It is a white marble on unmelting snow. And Jimmy stands clear and unique in a world where much is synthetic and dishonest and drab. He came and rearranged our molecules.

Excerpt of letter from Rebel Without a Cause screenwriter Stewart Stern to James Dean‘s family

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