East of Eden | EW.com

Movies

East of Eden Watching East of Eden — making its DVD debut in a two-disc set — it's easy to see why James Dean set off a youthquake that...East of EdenDramaPT115M Watching East of Eden — making its DVD debut in a two-disc set — it's easy to see why James Dean set off a youthquake that...2005-05-31Albert DekkerJulie HarrisBurl IvesLois SmithAlbert Dekker, Julie Harris, Burl Ives, Lois SmithWarner Bros.
James Dean, East of Eden

(East of Eden: Floyd McCarty)

A

East of Eden

Genre: Drama; Starring: Richard Davalos, James Dean, Raymond Massey, Albert Dekker, Julie Harris, Burl Ives, Lois Smith; Director: Elia Kazan; Author: Paul Osborn; Runtime (in minutes): 115; Distributor: Warner Bros.

Watching East of Eden — making its DVD debut in a two-disc set — it’s easy to see why James Dean set off a youthquake that still rumbles almost 50 years after his death at 24. As outsider Cal, he captures brooding, adolescent confusion with a seductive, rock-star charisma. Of course, he was lucky to have Elia Kazan guiding him and Julie Harris as his costar. Their scenes together, full of guarded longing, are sublime highpoints in a stirring, visually sophisticated film that feels thoroughly modern. (And Harris’ speech at the end always puts a lump in the throat.)

Considering the Dean hagiographic excess over the years, the extras are thankfully restrained. In addition to Richard Schickel’s analytical commentary, standouts include the ”Art in Search of Life” doc, in which Kazan gleefully recalls fueling the friction between Dean and on-screen father Raymond Massey. (”Do you think I would do anything to stop that antagonism? No, I increased it!…The absolute hatred…that’s precious, man!”) Alternate takes of Harris and Dean prepping for a party offer a fascinating glimpse of how actors affect dramatic impact with slight shifts of emphasis and pacing.

More from Our Partners