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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Reel Deal: Rebel Without A Cause

    No one has been or ever will be able to escape the confusion, fun, torture, and drama of adolescence. Despite the commonality, each generation experiences it differently. The change in music, the political climate, the fashion, and the movies have made each generation of teenagers of the last 100 years unique. ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ is a classic of the 1950s.

    James Dean only had three starring roles before he died. His style of acting was emotional, expressive, and different. He captivated the youth of America. His co-star, Natalie Wood as Judy, took this as a turning point in her career into more complex roles and even better performances.

    Color was a very important choice put to great use through clothing, makeup, set design, and locations. Green coats, fire engine red lipstick, the mansion’s garden, and the sunset behind the observatory are just some examples. Just like Marie Antoinette of last November, ‘the whole movie is like an animated photo album.’

    The theme of ‘Rebel’ was the dark side of suburbia’s post-WWII teenagers of America. Without the fear of poverty, like the Great Depression and the draft, the teens of the time had to amuse themselves by dividing into bullies and victims. Because their home-lives seem to be in shambles and the parents have lost their godly image, teens turn to their friends for influence while the loners are forced to figure it out on their own.

    The three main characters each have a problem with their father. Judy wonders why her father isn’t as affectionate to her as before. All she wants is his attention, which is why she acts out. Jim thinks very little of his father for not standing up for himself to the women of the household. Jim even found his father on the floor cleaning while wearing the mother’s apron. John’s (‘Plato’) father left him when he was very young and grew up without one. This left Plato with no set male influence and sees Jim as the father figure. When Jim, Judy, and Plato are hiding out in the mansion they are playing house.

    Even though teenagers of all generations have the same emotions, ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ does not resonate with those of later generations, especially the most current one. No longer are problems solved by playing Chicken or with switchblade fights. Unfortunately, problems are solved much more violently with more casualties.

    If ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ defined the 50’s teen generation, the Breakfast Club and Brat Pack defined the 80’s, then which movie has defined ours?

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