Rebel Without A Cause Theme

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Rebel Without a Cause was filmed in 1955 and directed by Nicholas Ray. Ray commissioned Leonard Rosenman for the film score. Rosenman is known for his unconventional and provocative scores. Rosenman was a friend of Aaron Copland and he followed Copland’s fundamentals when scoring for a film. Like Copland, Rosenman liked to play with the silence of the film. Rosenman’s scores helped boost the future use of stylistic devices in Hollywood. The films’ main theme begins at the opening credits played by brass instruments and cymbal. It has a dramatic beginning and breaks with a jazzy sound. This is where we see Jim Stark stumbling down a deserted street drunk, at this point the main theme returns warm and soft. It sounds like Rosenman is using…show more content…
I am going to refer to this theme as a narration theme, since it really goes with many different situations for Jim. What I found most interesting is the use of this theme in conjunction with Jim’s friend Plato, whom I found to be a link to other forces of conflict in Jim’s life. We see this theme appears when Jim passes Plato at his locker and Plato seeing Jim in the mirror reflection looks back with fascination. The last time it appears is in fragmented form near the end as Jims laments Plato’s death. There are many things to note about this theme and how we can link it to Plato. First, Plato doesn’t receive his own theme like Judy. He is tied to this current theme but it is not bound to him. The significance of his relationship to Jim is denied, he is subsumed into the narrative flow, and his own desire is not spoken with the affective power of music. Instead he is given the generic narration music which is also given to Jim’s parents and other problem figures which the score positions Plato as another problem to be resolved. This narrative reinforces this by putting a gun in his hands and ultimately organizing a manhunt to capture the increasingly deranged boy, solving the problem of Plato by finally killing him. By letting this happen his death also resolves the problem of his desire will no longer threaten to emerge. So with the killing of Plato the music expresses Jim lays to rest the uneasiness with Plato that Jim feels and no longer has to worry about the tension between Jim, Judy and Plato. Plato was a problem for Jim because he demanded something from Jim that he could not reciprocate. The music for this theme enhances the expression of the position in which Jim is in with Plato and other problem figures
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