Friday, September 09, 2005

A film student moment

So the sister and I went to the Tivoli last night to see part of the James Dean tribute. The film was "Rebel Without a Cause."

I had previously thought that this flick fell into the category of all those crappy Ed Wood cautionary tales about youth rebellion and negligent parents. But it somehow transcends that classification. While it does touch on the idea of suburban parent/child disconnect and the growing pains of a population who suddenly found themselves in the vast middle class, the film is about much more than just absent, lame parents and suburban discontent.

In what was really an inspired choice, the director chose instead to highlight the surrounding issues of 1950s America. Not only were kids faced with the issues of lacking or dysfunctional parenting, they were living in a time of paralyzing fear. Not about a terrorist attack or a war, but complete annihilation. In one impressive scene, the the director shows the faces of teenagers in a darkened planetarium as the instructor describes the end of the world. Complete and utter destruction. Teenagers then lived in a time of fallout shelters and duck and cover. Maybe the rebellion didn't have a "cause" per se, like a revolution or a social issue. But it did have an impetus. It drew power from desperation, paranoia and fear.

Last week, I wrote a column about being a college student in the post-9/11 world. In many ways, the feeling is the same. While a good number of kids my age become more involved, more connected and more active in the world around them, there are still plenty who viewed the attacks as a beginning of an end. Such is the unfortunate reality of being jolted awake from a pleasant naivete.

But all in all, I was very impressed by the movie. I can see now why it is the seminal "Teen Rebellion" flick, but it is much more than that.

And . . . James Dean. Damn. Just . . . damn.


  1. It's all about Mr. Magoo in that silly apron. However, acting-wise, Sal Mineo does a much better job than Dean, who's clearly in Shatner overacting territory.

  2. Yeah, James "You're Tearing Me Apart!" Dean was a little keyed up.

    But he's much yummier than Sal Mineo.

  3. Nicholas Ray.

    Enough said.

  4. Your article would be interesting to read.

  5. Gracious, Norb, this is like the exact opposite of the debut Translator single on 415 Records. In that one would have to say that you're everywhere that I am.

    I came to give an encomium to VV after stealing her idea about the zany parody ministry.