Post Second World War, a new generation emerged with ideas and values of their own, often in conflict with those of their elders, seeking to identify themselves as a new and distinct demographic trying to define their social roles while transitioning between childhood and adulthood. In its depiction of this inter-generational alienation and confusion, Nicholas Ray’s classic in many ways created the archetype for subsequent cinematic depictions of teenagers.
James Dean stars in his most iconic role as 17-year-old Jim Stark, trying to fit in at a new high school. Targeted by bullies, he befriends the lonely Plato (Sal Mineo) and the beautiful Judy (Natalie Wood). Feeling misunderstood and let down by their parents as role models, the three band together to form a fantasy ‘family’, resulting in tragedy.
Screening as part of Teenage Kicks: American Teens on Film (August 4th – 28th).