Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Featurette-Rediscovering A Rebel
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||1955|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Nicholas Ray|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.55:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It's entertaining enough, but Rebel Without A Cause didn't ring true to me as a treatise of delinquent youth because the dialogue reads like what it is: the concoction of a team of Hollywood staff writers. The story goes that Warner optioned the rights to a criminal analysis written by a doctor purely for the title, then had no idea what to do with it. They later adapted a short story from the same doctor.
Unlike MGM's West Side Story, the no-good youth depicted by this film aren't poor, uneducated jailbait, but kids from well-off middle class homes. Apparently this had quite some impact back in the 50s. When I look at a 24-year-old James Dean shouting, "YOU'RE TEARING ME APART", I can't help but compare it to the two 12-year-old boys with zombified expressions that stood next to me on a train inhaling gas from a plastic bag a couple of weeks ago. When our modern society is so rotten and decayed, I have trouble finding the rebel aspect satisfying in this film. I don't know - maybe I'm jaded, maybe I was expecting too much, but I was more interested in deciding whether Sal Mineo's character was intended to be gay in the script, whether it was a choice made during shooting by Mineo or director Nicholas Ray, or whether we just make assumptions based on modern clichés. Don't get me wrong - it's a decent enough film. Certain scenes still have a lot of power - the classic 'Chickie Run' scene immediately gets the blood pumping. I just question whether it still has the social relevance people ascribe to it.
Given the age of the film, this restoration looks excellent. It appears to be taken from the same source print as the NTSC laserdisc.
The disc maintains the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The sharpness is surprisingly good, considering the film is approaching its 50th birthday. The shadow detail is also better than expected, and blacks are good and deep. Grain is quite unobtrusive. In these aspects, the image is similar to MGM's West Side Story, which also looks far better than you'd imagine it could.
The colour is generally pleasingly well-saturated, although the primitive optical compositing of the era broadcasts imminent fades between scenes with a reasonably subtle colour and luminance shift. The film was originally intended to be shot in black and white, until Fox insisted that all films using their CinemaScope technology must use colour stock.
I noticed no glaring MPEG artefacts despite the moderate bitrate, although the transfer displays a fair amount of aliasing when viewed on a 4:3 set. Much of this problem is eliminated in 16x9 mode and those with progressive displays will probably just look confused and ask; 'What's aliasing?'. Film artefacts were generally few and far between, although the print used has lost some frames to damage (e.g. 17:35 and 43:53). These jumps are noticeable but not overly distracting, and quite acceptable given the age of the film and the otherwise excellent video quality.
The disc contains three audio tracks; English Dolby Digital 5.1, and French and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. I listened exclusively to the English track.
The 5.1 mix is essentially mono in focus. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand, although obviously dated in fidelity. However, the soundtrack was never harsh or edgy because of this. I noticed no problems with audio sync.
The music is surprisingly warm and rich, and certainly far better than I would have hoped, spreading widely across the front soundstage and even reaching into the surrounds. The score itself is fairly typical of 50s Hollywood movies, and I have no comments on it good or otherwise.
The surround channels are barely used except for the score. Occasionally, I noted crickets and other ambient sound effects around me, but by and large the focus is on the centre channel.
I noticed the LFE channel being used only once, and then it really made its presence known. Those who've seen the film can probably guess where.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is fantastic for a film of this vintage.
The audio quality is very acceptable, though I wish Warner would start including the original soundtrack as well as their modified versions.
The extras are decent, but not extraordinary.
|DVD||Pioneer 103S DVD-ROM with Hollywood Plus decoder card, using S-Video output|
|Display||Mitsubishi DiVA (78cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Front L/R: Richter Excalibur SE, Centre: Richter Unicorn Mk 2, Surrounds: Richter Hydras|