In searching the Cinematical archives to see whether or not this commercial that, quite brilliantly, imagines what James Dean's life would have been like had he not died in a car crash in 1955, I came across this post from Cine writer Martha Fischer honoring the legendary actor on the 50th anniversary of his death. I find Martha's words of remembrance to be a bittersweet frame upon which to hang the advertisement embedded below.
"...the world Dean lived in has so little connection to ours (he never heard The Beatles; didn't live through the political chaos of the 60s) that he seems almost alien sometimes. He's so distant that he's become a symbol to us now: the kid with the cigarette dangling from his lips, tough facade laid over painful insecurity. He's so fragile that we want to protect him, but there's toughness there, too, a toughness that makes him willing to appear weak in front of the whole world."
This minute-long ad created by the King James ad agency for a South African long-term investment firm is, frankly, stunning, and that's a reaction coming from someone who has long been indifferent to the career and posthumous iconography of James Dean. But it doesn't take a diehard Dean fan to appreciate this meticulously crafted hypothetical that hearkens back to an increasingly forgotten era while creating one that never existed. It's equal parts heart-warming and heart-wrenching, which only makes me wish all advertisements were this compelling.