A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951
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Joshua Tree, 1951 follows James Dean (the handsome James Preston) on his first steps to becoming the international icon of youth and rebellion. The film is a series of revealing and sometimes dreamlike vignettes that blend autobiographical and fictionalised elements to present a pivotal moment in a remarkable life.
We follow Jimmy Dean during two periods of his life prior to becoming the international star that we all know today. In 1949, he joins UCLA as an acting major, a decision which ultimately estranged him from his father. Whilst there he wrestles with the mental and sexual constraints and boundaries of society and while demonstrating great acting skills he rebels against the system he finds himself within. Whilst in California he also starts to experiment with his sexuality, and finds solace in the beds of both men and women.
The film’s ‘present tense’ is in 1951, as Dean drives to the desert of Joshua Tree, California. Along for the ride is The Roommate (Dan Glenn), a struggling actor who lived and loved with Dean whilst at college. The friendship and intimacy he provides gives Dean a sense of security before embarking on his own path. Matthew Mishory presents his first feature; a brutal and honest exploration of Dean’s complicated sexuality and formative relationships; Joshua Tree, 1951 redefines the boy behind the image for a new generation.