Reviews - Rebel Without A Cause
Rebel Without A Cause
Reviewed By John Porter
Jean-Luc Godard once remarked that, "the cinema is Nicholas Ray", and Rebel Without a Cause exhibits many of the stylistic tropes which ensure that among cinephiles Ray's reputation continues to grow. He was a Hollywood iconoclast and active in the counterculture scene of the era (spot a young Dennis Hopper as one of the gang members), which makes his outsider's fascination with the family unit even more intriguing. In spite of casting a critical eye upon hierarchical values, in one sequence Jim and Judy (Natalie Wood) along with young loner Plato (Sal Mineo) ironically mimic a couple being shown around a new home, yet through their joking by the end credits the trio have become a surrogate family for each other. The film is also a text-book use of Cinemascope, a widescreen process only developed three years previous, and although marketed as a spectacle, allows Ray a greater expressiveness in the direction of both his actors and locations. Physical lines in the decor and positions of the actors are shifted across the frame in an ever-changing choreography, the staging subtly mirroring the allegiances and conflicts in the script. Rebel Without a Cause stands as a passionate and lush technicolour outburst of a statement by an artist striving to push the limits of his medium and message whilst working within the confines of a studio system for which he held little love.
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