Rebel Without a Cause Blu-ray Review
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concept of Rebel Without a Cause was to focus on
telling a story about confused middle class teenagers living in
the story was told was a different matter altogether. Back in 1955,
film was first released, the film was controversial at the time as it
depicted teenage rebellion and moral decay in the 1950s. Yet there is a
that happens in the course of the film that has made it become the
it is heralded as. Originally conceived to be a cheaply produced
black-and-white movie, Warner Bros had switched the production into a
budget mode and with color filming when it became apparent that James
one of the rising stars of the time.
the opening frame of the
film, Dean began to deliver an iconic performance. He was creatively
in his characters. The first shots of the film show Dean laying on the
He is playing with a toy monkey. This was improvised. He asked the
Nicholas Ray if he could try something. This became the opening of the
a fascinating moment. Dean was capable of such amazing acting. He had
story of Rebel Without a Cause primarily follows the
teenagers Jim Stark
(James Dean), Judy (Natalie Wood), and Plato (Sal Mineo) as they try to
sense of their lives while a sequence of events sends things spiraling
of them. At the start of the film, the three teenagers are all in a
station, each needing their parents to get them. Jim's parents
nature around Jim makes him more restless
and distant. Judy's father is shockingly distant from her with a cold
detachment. Plato's father abandoned him. The characters in this story
deal with their own feelings of displacement.
of the greatest sequences in
the film is when the characters first meet each other while attending a
field trip to an observatory. There, while witnessing a theoretical
displaying the destruction of the entire universe, the wide
the world is seemingly even more cold to them than before. It's a
metaphor for how the three characters are going through such severe
isolation and misunderstandings.
performances by Dean, Wood, and Mineo are
equally great. Each
actor brought a memorable performance to the screen. Over the course of
story, Jim and Judy seem somewhat parental to the Plato character. They
enact a 'game' of sorts at one point, inhabiting these roles. Dean and
immense screen chemistry together and were perfectly in synch with each
during this film. The confusion and angst felt from the characters was
demonstrated by the performances.
Ray did an excellent job
as the director of Rebel Without a Cause. The
story is a complicated one to tell,
and was not a small task for Ray to attempt to realize as director.
about the film was stylistically 'ace' and he managed to have the
compelling characters that could be universally fascinating and
film has incredible pacing and
flows from one scene into the next with a remarkable vitality that's
essentially fundamental to the film's success. This universally
was one he managed to tell with a heart and soul in the filmmaking,
the tragic ending so powerful that one can truly consider it amongst
film endings of all time.
estimation, Rebel Without a Cause is the best
looking film out of the three presented in the James Dean:
Ultimate Collector's Edition. There is something about
its unique visual style that impresses me the most. Perhaps it has
do with the color and the way it brings the best out of the costumes,
especially the famous red jacket Dean wore during the film.
three films contain excellent
cinematography, and yet I found the work that was done by the Academy
winning cinematographer Ernest Haller to be the best of the bunch. This
excellent film aesthetically, and I consider that element to begin with
brilliant photography, which is well represented with this Blu-ray
original 2.55:1 theatrical
aspect ratio has been preserved. The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode is
has an average bit-rate is around 25 mbps. This is certainly not a huge
sampling rate, but it's par-the-course for Warner Bros and it's
this presentation. I found the film to have good color depth and decent
clarity. The film could have been sharper. However, the sharpness in
transfer is notable, nonetheless, and far better when compared to
presentations of Rebel Without a Cause.
film presentation doesn't
suffer from anything artificial attempting to "enhance" the film
either. It's free of artificial sharpening, DNR, and an assortment of
ailments that are detrimental to quality. Another plus is that the
has solid black levels. This is a pleasing presentation and one that I
little to fault.
I also found the CinemaScope design to be
quite impressive. It is important to realize that the technology was
new at the
time. This was one of the first films to use the technology, which
anamorphic lenses and the widescreen format. I think Rebel
Without a Cause is a notable example of the strength of the
format. It is a splendid image, despite the flaws of the CinemaScope
not notice anything that
created a sensation of a "stretched" image for my viewing, which is a
common complaint of the technology, and rightfully so as it an
system. Many other films made in CinemaScope seem notably stretched to
recognizing the widescreen brilliance of Rebel
Without a Cause and how seamlessly it handled the new technology
worthwhile. While many will not think of the film from this aesthetic
this was a hugely significant film in terms of pioneering the
efforts made with films like Rebel Without a Cause
that led us to the
technological brilliance of modern filmmaking technologies: the current
ratios and presentations would not even exist without such efforts.
the audio presentation Giant received, Warner Bros.
has given Rebel Without a Cause an audio makeover of
sorts with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation. I'm all for keeping
audio intact but this is actually not that bad of a sound mix for the
I found it sounded rather authentic with the material.
will refer to it as a
glorified mono mix. I disagree. There's a
bit more dimensionality to the mix, especially when the car sequences
into account, and with regards to the way score music was implemented.
I will also maintain that this is a
authentic sounding mix that is generally an impressive and satisfactory
experience. It's still a front-heavy mix. It implements a good range of
into the sound-stage. It's simply a nice expansion to the audio
and not an awful attempt at utilizing sound effects beyond their
actually wish that an option was
given for both a surround sound re-mix and the original mono to be
on the disc. This seems to be an over-sight from Warner Bros.
sound is impressive in its lossless surround sound mix. Film fans won't
disappointed by the presentation as long as the audio-purist in them
kick it into over-drive on this one.
review has been sourced from the review of James
Dean: Ultimate Collector's Edition. The information provided in
details the same Blu-ray disc and bonus features content specific to
as is provided individually in this DigiBook edition. Additional
have also been provide to give a better sense of the Blu-ray PQ.
the review of the James Dean: Ultimate
Collector's Edition for specifics on the Ultimate release
with East of
Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant
as well as other supplemental
bonus features (both on-disc and in the packaging).
an image to view the Blu-ray
screenshot with 1080p resolution
edition of Rebel Without a Cause includes the
majority of the supplements from the 2005 Special Edition 2-Disc DVD
This release also adds a brand new supplemental feature.
of the Supplements:
Hopper's "Memories from the Warner Lot" (HD,
11 min.), a brand new interview for the Blu-ray edition. In this piece,
discusses his work on Giant and Rebel
Without a Cause.
by Douglas L. Rathgeb, the
author of The
Making of Rebel Without a Cause.
Dean Remembered (1
Hr. 6 min.) is another documentary about James Dean and featuring
interviews with actors he worked with, particularly those involved with
Rebel Without a Cause, such as Natalie
Wood and Sal Mineo.
Without a Cause: Defiant Innocents (37
min.) is a documentary
chronicling the production of the film.
and Wardrobe Tests (5 min.) are
Deleted Scenes are included, and these scenes include
from the black and white filming (from when the film was originally
being made in black and white) and color
scenes cut from the second phase of filming. All of the scenes are
features short interviews with James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Jim
dynamic and influential Rebel
Without a Cause seemed to speak to an entire
generation when it was first released. I feel that is still the case
it will be the case tomorrow: Future generations of film lovers will
find something to connect
to in this essential masterpiece. The PQ resulting from MPI's
efforts are fantastic and this is a must-own Blu-ray of an important
Talk Collector Series.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.