‘You can wake up now, the universe has ended’
James Dean stars in this iconic drama about a rebellious teenager trying to find his place in 1950’s society. I think this movie might launch my interest in older, more timeless classics, even if I have watched many before, like Brief Encounter and The Ghost and Mrs Muir, but this one stood out for me as the eve of public teenage rebellion shortly before icons like Elvis took over.
Dean himself only did three films and a couple of TV series before his death in 1955 as a result of a car crash, and his was one of his two posthumous films, but his styled blonde quiff, fresh face and fashionable clothes sense has influenced many modern day actors in terms of his acting style and the theme for many photoshoots.
Natalie Wood’s charecter Judy, on the other hand, was more of a supporting part than Jim Stark (Dean), but delivers her part very well, making it a much cooler, less cheesy version of West Side Story (of which Wood was in anyway). She is the first of a noticable rebel, her parents are controlling, but she is young and free. If Rebel Without a Cause was done in modern day then viewers would want more romantic chemistry between Judy and Jim, but the lack of it, or more the friend- friend relationship allowed the viewers to focus more on Dean’s portrayal of Jim’s rebellion.
I enjoy how the film relies more on the metaphors, the jacket which Dean gave to his friend suggests that they trust each other, or the colour, rather than trying to sell it off, and at 1 hr and 48 minutes, it uses the time wisely, as an ageless 59 year old film, and shows that Dean is the only charecter wearing bright clothing, the white shirt, red jacket and blue jeans, as an outstanding fashion icon of which every guy started wearing, an example that he was the fashionable, rebellious guy who didn’t want to look like other people. It isn’t just a rather old film, it is an influence for fashion.
The movie is also rather beautiful, in terms of the soundtrack of only classical stuff, calm so excess background noise does not get in the way of the movie or the mood.
However, the standards of those days were rather shocking- Judy was only meant to be 16! She was certainly a mature rebel!
A film like this could never be made again in the same way again, not just because only one or two of the actors are still alive, but it is too classic to be copied. They could be influenced by the style, many men have their hair styled in the same way as a fashion statement, but a movie like this can never be remade without the message than the teenage years are not meant to be awkward.
Outstanding soundtrack, vintage, and classic, good if you start to get bored of the conveyor belt of some modern films.