Tuesday, 13 June 2017

''Rebel Without a Cause'' (1955 film)- Review

Directed by: Nicholas Ray
Released: 1955
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


''Rebel Without a Cause'' reminded me of everything I love about films. It is such a very powerful and riveting film that I found myself loving it and it has surely become one of my all-time favorite films.

Jim Starks (played by James Dean) has recently moved to a new town with his parents. Jim is frustrated and feels that his parents don't understand him. We are introduced to two other teenagers, Judy (played by Natalie Wood) and Plato (played by Sal Mineo). Judy feels slighted by her father. Her father never pays her the attention that she wants from him. She feels that her father does not care for her anymore. Plato is extremely lonely and longs for friends, which leads to frustration that often causes him to become violent. On Jim's first at school, he is bullied by a boy called Buzz (played by Corey Allen).  Jim is humiliated when he is called a chicken (signifying a coward) and then gets into trouble with Buzz, something that results in a severe tragedy. Traumatized and feeling guilty about the tragedy and also deeply affected by the frustration they have to go through everyday, Jim, Judy and Plato form a close bond over the course of a single evening, while the outside world that has never understood them keeps haunting them, something that ultimately results in a tragedy.

Here are three characters who want to belong somewhere, to somebody. They have never felt that sense of belonging anywhere. Finally, the three of them find one another. Perhaps, they think, this is what they have been looking for? This kind of friendship and emotional bond had been missing in their lives, and when they finally find one another they discover that they can finally expect to let go of the loneliness that has been haunting them.

How can a film possibly be this much emotionally overpowering? I have seen films about loneliness and frustration and the discovery of someone who fully understands you, but very few of them were as powerful as ''Rebel Without a Cause''. The film knows just how to explore the subject. And when it comes to the characters, the success of character development depends on whether you can feel emotionally attached to them and want to spend more, much more time with them. ''Rebel Without a Cause'' fully succeeds in that. James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo are excellent in their roles. The film makes us want to spend more time with Jim, Judy and Plato. It makes us desperately want a happy ending for the three characters we get to love. We anticipate a tragedy of some kind or other but we just don't want it to strike, we just want our characters to be happy.

These are universal themes- frustration, loneliness, communication gap and the eager desire to belong somewhere. The world is a complicated and lonely place and we are all looking for acceptance. It is tragic if teenagers- at an age when they are at the peak of the emotional development- find that there is now a distance between themselves and their parents, that they don't know just who they are, what their identity is, where they belong, who their friends are.

Teenagers often ''get into trouble'' when they find acceptance nowhere. It is the duty of others- particularly parents- to be compassionate and understanding towards teenagers. At the same time, we- whether we are children, teenagers or adults- go on looking for belonging and acceptance and once we find it, we feel a sort of fulfillment we have never felt before. ''Rebel Without a Cause'' thus explores several themes that are identifiable and understandable. It is one of the best films I have ever seen. 


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