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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
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(1955), NR --Remember, the Rebel Without A Cause generation (and their children) are the leaders of today.
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros.
Distribution (US): Warner Bros., Warner Home Video (DVD, VHS, laserdisc)
Director(s): Nicholas Ray
Producer(s): David Weisbart
Story: Nicholas Ray (story), Irving Shulman (adaptation)
Screenplay: Stewart Stern
Cinematography/Camera: Ernest Haller
Music: Leonard Rosenman
Film Editing: William H. Ziegler
Production Design: Malcolm C. Bert
Art Direction: Malcolm C. Bert
Viewed on: Warner Home Video DVD
Rebel Without A Cause (1955) was analyzed using the same analysis model, the same investigation standards, the same equations in the same computer applications as used on all the other more than 850 films we have analyzed. The CAP model has revealed Rebel Without A Cause is morally equivalent to a PG-13 of today (NOT a R-13). That suggests it was one of the first "big doses" to build up the "blood count", readying the body for more.
Rebel Without A Cause, originally titled "The Blind Run", seems to follow a counterfeited theme of "Romeo and Juliet" and is set in a 24-hour span of time in Los Angels of the post-war 1950s. It is a film of teenage tragedy. Of overbearing and milquetoast idiot parents. Of teens taking lethal dares from peers to establish pecking order. Of anguished, troubled, frustrated and identity-seeking teenagers.
Each of three young lives are entwined by fueled and "justified" by manufactured parental/authority irresponsibility. Rebel Without a Cause may have been the first world-wide release to try to make teen malcontentism and rebellion against controls desirable and make it feel as if every teen could and should embrace it -- the same that now saturates most of modern cinema. [Prov. 22:15] To thoroughly implant such an behavioral template in every youth who saw the film, the writers had the lead actor physically throwing his cowardly stage father around with impunity [Exod. 20:12]. To further ingrain acceptance of such behavior in the young observer, there were no consequences for the assailant. [Eccl. 8:11] And to yet further anchor such emboldenment to empathize with youthful rebellion and aggression, the writers had the quintessential rebel wanting to tell the truth and admit his culpability in a fatal tragedy and grand theft-auto but his parents coached him to withhold the truth to save social face. [Col. 2:8; Rev. 21:8]
Jim Stark (James Dean), the rebel, is a high school senior who has been moved from town to town over the years by his status-hungry father, Frank (Jim Baccus) and mother, Carrol (Ann Doran) each time Jim got in any sort of trouble. The extent of trouble Jim got into to "cause" the Starks to unjustly (unjust by most of modern standards) move to avoid social shame was ill-defined. Can't have the Jones' or the Smith's looking down their noses at us, y'know. Scandalous!
Judy (Natalie Wood) is a particularly vicious young lady who lives on the edge - all of the time. Taking advantage of Wood's natural expressional intensity, Nicholas Ray had her playing the bad girl hanging out with hoods. Since Judy lives almost next door to Jim Stark, meeting each other was inevitable. As Judy threw insult after insult at Stark, the filmmakers made it obvious that she was internally feeling otherwise about Stark. In one scene, after she pummeled Stark with insults and as she rode away, the camera focused on her face looking at Stark, making it obvious her interests were more than social combat with the "new kid."
John Crawford, a.k.a. "Plato" (Sal Mineo) lived almost as close to Stark as Judy. Plato was the sort of character that sought acceptance by servitude and submission to a socially superior presence. Jim Stark was chosen by Plato to be his "socially superior" presence. Plato was quite physical in his affection for Stark. Plato seemed to be the kid who would rally to a "cause" of any kind just to be accepted. A truly dangerous attitude to take.
All three characters were confused and embittered by the lack of a strong and responsible father figure. Each would sneak and lie. As part of the social warfare that ensued, including a knife fight, it was decided amongst the top dogs that a "chickie run" would settle the friction. A "chickie run" is two cars - stolen cars - in a race to the edge of a cliff to see who jumps out first. Stark's challenger did not get out. After a period of flight to escape accountability and after the benchmark display of a teen throwing his father around, the stage was set for the denouement and the development of an attraction between Stark and Judy, which seems to yet be typical of films that portray two teens running away together.
As part of their efforts to gain relief from emotional turmoil, Judy and Jim, abetted by Plato, ran away to an abandoned mansion, Plato with a gun. The police knew about the gun and were thus forced treat Plato as a possible lethal threat to others and himself. In that abandoned mansion, Jim and Judy started planning a fantasy wedding, marriage and a family with acidic notions about children. In an act of kindness, Jim gave Plato his red jacket which caused a case of mistaken identity by the police who shot and killed Plato. What a powerful portrayal to embolden same-age camaraderie.
Rebel Without a Cause (the name itself incites pity) feeds teenage rebellion by guided sympathy/empathy. It glamorizes the restlessness of the "It ain't good enough, no matter what 'it' is" attitude that causes almost all teens to feel that mom/dad "just don't understand", as if claiming parental misunderstanding excuses teen defiance of them. Such has been happening probably since a while after Adam and Eve but likely never before as attractively and encouragingly for teens as in Rebel Without a Cause. The movie also glamorizes malcontentism and defiance by portraying that other "It ain't good enough, no matter what 'it' is" teens DO understand, thus creating an unbearable dissonance between parent and child. The human entity will do almost anything to alleviate such dissonance. [Jer. 5:6]
This film and a 1953 film with Marlon Brando, The Wild One, are together the focal point for the CAP Ministry study: that the most significant decline of youthful moral standards in and as entertainment began, as several agree, in the mid 1950s when the days of a wholesome hero figure in entertainment started evaporating. I contend that such decline dug in its heels with these two films; that the decay of teen morality in entertainment began with Rebel Without A Cause, The Wild One, or both and all films of the period which exploited the monetary success of such youthful attitude in and as entertainment. While Rebel Without A Cause was probably the first major world-wide release of its size to exploit and capitalize on the success of cinematic emboldening teenage rebellion as desirable by glamorizing it by feeding it to our kids in and as entertainment [Ps. 12:8], it was likely also the first to clearly exploit teenage sex appeal as a fundamental element. [1Ths. 4:1-5] It was also the first to present homosexual attractions. [1Cor. 6:9-10]
It begs of wonder why all three stars of this movie who led the world into accelerated rebellion and defiance suffered untimely and violent deaths. James Dean died at 24 years old in a car wreck in the same year of the film. Natalie Wood drowned at the age of 43. Sal Mineo was stabbed to death at 37. Is there a measure of Spiritual reckoning there? Only God knows. But it is sometimes interesting to wonder. [Isa. 13:11]
Especially revealing evidence of the decay of morality in film since the 1950s was noted in the fact that of the moral assaults now commonplace is PG-13 movies are just not there. In Rebel Without A Cause (1955) not once were any of the three/four letter word vocabulary used nor was there even one use of God's name in vain with or without the four letter expletive. Nor was there the slightest hint of nudity or intercourse or even inappropriate touch or open face kissing noted in this 1955 "PG-13", just a shot of Woods' legs (from the knees down) in a sensual statement. Indeed, the reason for the scoring equivalent to PG-13 movies in the comparative baseline database is almost entirely due to violence and crime and teenage rebellion, arrogance and hatred.
Several elements are blended together into an intricately woven fabric of poison to wholesome teen ethics and morality:
Remember, the Rebel Without A Cause generation (and their children) are the leaders of today.
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***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
Single Christian Network
Kids, Teens and Home Vertical Portal
|There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|
|In the name of Jesus: |
Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.
Thomas A. Carder
ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture
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