James Dean reborn?

Everything dead is new again

Exclusive to MeierMovies, November 8, 2019

After seeing the first films by the Lumière brothers in 1895, a journalist wrote, “Death will cease to be absolute.” Well, death is apparently about to be dealt another technological blow, as it was just announced that iconic actor James Dean has been cast in a new movie, 64 years after he was killed in a car crash.

Dean’s likeness will appear next year in Finding Jack, a Vietnam War narrative, thanks to the same CGI process that brought Peter Cushing back to life for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016. But who will give voice to Dean? In the movie, it will be another actor, as it was for Cushing in Rogue One. But Dean remains silent in real life, and therein lies the moral dilemma. Yes, the actor’s estate has given permission to use Dean’s likeness, but who are they? Dean, who died at age 24, had no wife or kids. And everyone who knew him well is now dead. So they seem ill suited to make this decision, especially because Dean was apparently anti-war and will now be associated with a war-themed movie.

The film’s producers brag about how far the technology has come and how realistic the creation will be. And they also seemingly pay tribute to Dean by claiming that they could find no one else to play the part.

“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean,” co-director Max Ernst is quoted in The Hollywood Reporter.

He couldn’t find another 24-year-old white actor? That’s doubtful. Frankly, this sounds like a publicity stunt, one that is admittedly difficult to resist. Indeed, the technology was tough for director Gareth Edwards to resist in Rogue One, and the re-creation of Cushing – which seemed far more appropriate and ethical than Dean’s – was one of the reasons I gave the film such a good review three years ago. But while the re-creation of Dean might be irresistible, it’s also reprehensible. Let our technological dive down the rabbit hole begin.

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Update: As of 2023, this project has been canceled.