I’m not sure we even need to introduce Rebel Without A Cause given its landmark status but for the few of those who’ve never seen it, here is what you need to know.
Released in 1955, it’s the very first movie to talk about the woes of adolescence in a middle-class, suburban scene. For that very reason, it was and still is considered as groundbreaking. Rebel Without A Cause paved the way for movies like West Side Story, Grease, etc. all the way down to tv shows like 90210. In short, if we’ve been shoved teenage romance and drama down our throats for the past 60 years, Nicholas Ray, the movie’s director, is the culprit.
Beyond that, the premature death of the charismatic, tortured lead, James Dean, just about one month before the movie was released, literally consecrated both the actor and the film in Hollywood’s Pantheon. For real, Dean has almost been sanctified since. He is the only actor with posthumous award nominations!
Rebellious souls, aching hearts?
Rebel Without A Cause tells the story of Jim (James Dean), Judy (Natalie Wood) and Plato (Sal Mineo) — three middle-class, American teens at odds with their parents. They act out to express their innermost frustrations and reclaim the attention or affection they lack. The three of them have their own reasons to believe they’re being left out, neglected or unloved by their parents.
Plato has to deal with shame of coming from a broken family in a 1950 America when Jim deems his father weak as he never opposes his mother. A sentiment Jim carries toward himself as well — he never manages to stand up to his overbearing mother. Judy’s inner conflict regarding her father drives her to sick boys’ attention and act promiscuous. The movie starts off with the trio being arrested and questioned by the police individually. No doubts here, these kids are delinquents.
Nicholas Ray’s movie is a first attempt at criticising the lost of bearings about American morals in the upcoming 1950’s youth, caused by a ‘let do’ parenting attitude and a generational gap, maybe too hard to bridge.
Did I like the movie ?
Yes and no. I had a difficult time really getting into the story and the 1950’s acting style is not one I like most. Or at least, it was an issue for me in this particular movie.
It’s also hard to grasp de groundbreaking character of it when you’ve grown up in the 90s and been fed teen movies/shows your whole life. It asks to take some distance and find the right perspective to be able to appreciate it as a whole.
Nevertheless, it’s a must-watch culturally speaking and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should catch that train soon. It’s a key element to understand decades of movies and reinterpretations of one single theme: the hardships of coming of age.
The Dreamers because?
Obvious as it is, The Dreamers is also a coming of age story, focused on two boys and one girl. They, too, act out, rebel and seek freedom from something they quite don’t understand themselves.
They go through major changes, particularly Isabelle and Matthew who both lose their virginity to each other. The 1968 Paris riots background adds to the rebellious spirit of the movie and mirror the changes the trio is facing too.
Indeed, the 1968 riots are still perceived as a turning point in France’s history and blamed for a loss of values in French society — a parallel difficult to miss.
Want to participate too?
If you want to participate, here are the rules:
- Pick three movies out of the list of references in the 2003 film The Dreamers.
- Make three separate posts about them, one for each.
- You can write, photograph, share whatever you want about them.
- They don’t have to be consecutive posts, but they cannot be more than one month apart.
- Ping back your challenger.
- Challenge a grand total of three more bloggers, one per post.
- Tag it #TheDreamersChallenge.
I tag anyone who wants to do (I know it said three, but please go ahead and share the fun!)