WISDOM MAKES LIFE ENDURABLE ( old Okinawa proverb)
all articles (c) JoeMoretti music International
James Dean recognised that the power of any actor is rooted in the magical ability of being oneself and the character being portrayed at the same time. The two are as one. Many great artists possess this ability. In 'East of Eden', Cal is Jimmy Dean and vice versa. It's the ability to push the expression of one's art to the limit without losing one's head, without going nuts, and James Dean came frighteningly close to the border line. The opening scene in Rebel where Jimmy's lying on the ground pissed, cuddling the monkey, is a brilliant example of what can be achieved through improvisation. That was Jimmy's idea, an intuitive step, taken to replace the original, rather hackneyed idea of Jim Backus being attacked in the street by a gang of thugs that Jimmy meets up with later in the movie. And that was the whole trip with James. You had to let him be himself. If the script don't work, improvise. If the improvisation don't work, go back to the script. Toss it around, but always maintain self discipline. Self discipline in art is the doorway  to freedom of expression. Dean knew how he should be directed, and, equally as important, he knew how a  movie should be directed. He could hold his place in a movie while retaining an 'over-all' picture of what was being created, the part and the whole, subjective and objective simultaneously. That's why 'REBEL' and 'EAST' work so brilliantly. The sets, locations, are all beauifully presented, and from the opening shots of EDEN we're immersed in the life, the feel, the tempo, the atmosphere, of the towns of Monterey and Salinas. And we're no longer just with Jimmy Dean, we're with Cal Trask.The wonderful music of Leonard Rosenman reinforces the drama unfolding in the  opening credits and indeed throughout the movie.   I understand he was a good friend of Jimmy Dean's. That makes sense. One can hear and feel great sympatico in his music for the story and the acting. Mr Rosenman's scores and compositions are just too beautiful. He was also responsible for the wonderful music in REBEL.  Take away his music from either of these films and there's a big hole.Take James out and there's a yawning chasm.  One that, to my mind, couldn't have been filled by anyone else, well, certainly not so completely.  "East Of Eden" is a brilliant story by John Steinbeck, and the movie is built on the last third of the book. It's the story of two brothers, Cal And Aaron Trask. 
The story of Cal and Aaron is a very simple one. This story is re-enacted every day on the planet. It's the old story of two brothers with a religiously dogmatic father who favours one son more than the other.
That's it. The whole story. But what Mr Steinbeck does with the situation, what he builds around it, is nothing short of literary genius. And Eliah Kazan's interpretation of the story is a prime example of what movie making is about, albeit that the original roles of Cal and Aaron were swapped around. Sure, the missing mother who runs the whorehouse in the neighbouring town adds to the hurt in the situation, but Cal is enough of a realist to accept that. It's the father's misplaced over-affection for one son, and his almost total rejection of the other that's the real hinge in the movie. 
The movie is hurt, hurt, hurt.....till the father has a stroke. Then the realisation sets in that it should have been love, love, and more love. How dreadfully tragic. As in the movie, round and round we go in life, in a world of war, mayhem and madness.
The fairground scene in EDEN accurately depicts the mood of America at that time. Enlistment. War with Germany, mistrust of all that was considered to be un-American. So, to get away from it all, we go to the fairground. But there's no escape from hate and discrimination, and from the top of the big wheel we look down and witness a prime example of racial hatred taking place on the ground below. Or we go to watch the new army recruits marching in the enlistment parade through the streets of Salinas. " It will all be over in a couple of months" someone says. Young blood of America off to fight the Kaiser. But they march proudly for the flag as the brass band plays 'Avalon' in the background, all fodder for the guns of the nasty Hun. So innocent, so proud, and ultimately....all the Little Princes will be so very dead. And still today the band plays 'Avalon' and still today they march. All of the actors in the movie are well chosen, all brilliant, (see credits) but  director, Eliah Kazan, recognises a very important point from the outset.
                                                   SALINAS VALLEY
 When you have a superstar on your hands, let him shine. As with Bette Davis, Bogey, Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, etc etc.. they have the magic, so direct the fucking move in sympathy with the actor's talents. Direct, mould, listen, consider, cooperate, sympathise, give and take, and when you think you've got it right....leave the guys alone. Let them get on with the job....acting. Get your ass back on the director's chair and watch and enjoy what's happening like any member of a cinema audience would. That's a sign of humility and respect for one's art.  It's also a lesson in objectivity. Lose the Ego, worship the art form. Art, like life itself, doesn't belong to you. You are simply the medium for it's expression, and should give thanks for being fortunate enough to be just that. It's the same with an orchestra. The conductor must have the ability to point the way, combined with the ability to let the band play. He may inspire the orchestra to great heights but no more than what they are capable of as a whole. The conductor and the orchestra are not separate entities. He, the musicians, and the music being played, must be as one. Art is not domination, it's creation.  It is not a noun, or a thing. It's a process. The process of creation. It's also a nice way to earn enough to enable one to put bread in one's mouth, and many have gone hungry and even died to preserve their integrity as artists. Man cannot live by the word alone. He must have bread. Art is life, and life necessarily involves suffering, and James suffered for his art. Oh the joy of Art, and the beautiful hurt that is Life.
The wonderful music, the paintings, the books, the sea, the sky, colours, clouds, flowers, the sheer magic of being alive, and always, at the back of one's mind, the thought that one day it will all come to an end. We'll see this ol' sun rise no more. The curtain will come down. That goes for all of us, so, while we're here, let's make the best movie we can. That's what James gets across. How fragile the whole life scene is. For instance, in one crazy moment two vehicles can collide and.....you're gone.....for real. Gone are the dreams, the talent, the hope, the person, and that means you and me babe. For the artist, all that remains is the beauty he or she has created. That, and only that, tells if we were sincere in our quest.  Eliah Kazan knew what he was about. And, by golly, so did James Byron Dean.
  coming soon :
 Click here to play   DEAN  'REBEL' VIDEO LINK                                       



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