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Topic Suggestions on the Movie Rebel Without a Cause

After watching the movie, Rebel Without a Cause, you may have to write a research paper on some aspect of the movie's culture, characters or themes. The director, Nicholas Ray, is also an interesting topic study. You can have our movie writers explicate the classic James Dean flick, Rebel without a Cause.

In Rebel Without a Cause, the focus is on a student, creating a mythic figure in a rebellious teenager that is willing to stand up for himself at all costs. He does not wish to abide by the mores and conventions of the society around him; he has shirked off responsibility and normalcy and challenges the status quo of suburban America. While this might not be the traditional approach to a mythic tale that one is accustomed to, it presents the mythic hero from the students’ perspective. Individual students look up to Jim Stark, as he fights for his independence and freedom in a society that is otherwise repressive. To viewers, he is the hero, standing up against the odds and overcoming obstacles along the way.

It is Rebel without a Cause that best displays the concept of individualism as part of the American cultural myth. Stark’s character is not concerned with the influence, impact, or implications of his actions on anyone else; he is concerned first and foremost with himself. This individualism is shown to have significant results, but the positive light in which Stark is presented allows this concept to be revered by many adolescent viewers.

The following are reflection questions and will help you in preparing your essay on this Movie Rebel Without a Cause Term Paper:

  1. How does the director, Nicholas Ray, establish a relationship among his three central characters at the film’s outset? Pay particular attention to camera angles and cutting from shot to shot here. Observe the way the camera work splices things together.Rebel Without a Cause
  2. Why have these characters come together here? What is the problem?
  3. How is the juvenile officer, Ray, defined as an authority here?
  4. What academic discipline does Ray bring to bear in his interview with these three youths?
  5. Where, judging from what is going on in the interaction between Ray and these youths, does America hope to find a resolution to its juvenile delinquency problem?
  6. Think about the film’s color symbolism. What does red appear to stand for and why?
  7. Look at the issue of “investiture,” of being clothed in garments that represent certain value systems.
  8. What relationships have Judy, Plato, and Jim created for themselves at the abandoned mansion? Why? What wider implications are involved?
  9. What sociological statements does the film make about the rise of juvenile delinquency in America? Who is, finally, to blame here?
  10. Note the “coincidence” between the director’s name and juvenile officer’s name. What is the message here? What do the “Rays” have to offer as a solution to the juvenile delinquency problem?
  11. Look at Plato’s home life. What does the film suggest is the cause of his disturbance?
  12. Look at the home life of Jim and Judy? How does this affect their behavior?
  13. What makes Buzz perform? How does this contribute to juvenile delinquency?
  14. Beyond saying that they are capable of engaging in criminal behavior, what is the film saying about the basic nature of American youth?
  15. Does this film effectively set to rest the psychological issues and social issues it explores?

From Rebel Without a Cause - The Hypnoanalysis of a Criminal Psychopath by Robert Lindner, 1944.

  1. Evaluate each of the three major characters in Nicholas Ray’s Rebel as a candidate for the film’s title role. Who is the real “rebel without a cause,” and why don’t the others qualify?
  2. You might want to think about the following excerpt from Lindner’s study of the same title. This work predates Ray’s film, and the coincidence of titles is surely no accident.

“…the psychopath is a rebel without a cause, an agitator without a slogan, a revolutionary without a program: in other words, his rebelliousness is aimed to achieve goals satisfactory to himself alone; he is incapable for exertions for the sake of others. All his efforts, hidden under no matter what disguise, represent investments designed to satisfy his immediate wishes and desires.

…The psychopath, like the child, cannot delay the pleasures of gratification; and this trait is one of his underlying, universal characteristics. …Like a red thread the predominance of this mechanism for immediate satisfaction runs through the history of every psychopath. It explains not only his behavior but also the violent nature of his acts.”

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