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Rebel Without a Cause (1955) ****

Rebel Without A CauseRevisiting this movie classic over 50 years after its original release, while the topic remains relevant, much of the backdrop had significantly became dated. Subject matters that remain (and may always be) actual, include the challenging teenage years, including the disconnect between parents and their children; social pressure, bullying and the need for acceptance and love. The playful James Dean will forever remain associated with the rebel image, and his performance, under the guidance of Nicholas Ray, is indeed superb, as are the performances of most of his age-peer actors. But the parents and other adults portrayed in the film, are completely dated, partially because they were purposely made into shallow cartoonish-like characters, that make the film much less effective.
A couple of other interesting items to note: 1. In today’s teenage reality, much of the bullying would have been done by cell phone and social network bashing… This does not take away from the film as it is correct for its period. 2. It is understood today that the changes teenagers go through during those years, relate to rewiring of the brain to prepare them for adulthood. Much of the teenage behavior depicted in the film, which is described as delinquent, is due to the physiological changes to the brain that affect the psyche. This was not known at the time, and knowing it today puts that behavior in a very different light as teenagers have much less control over their actions.
Still, very few if any other films describing this topic, ever reached the iconic level earned by this film, and for a very good cause.

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