Movie: Ideas and Themes–Love

In the 1950s, parental lack of love and understanding (especially from fathers) is the major cause leading to juvenile delinquency and mixed-up teenagers.

In James Dean’s two major films, Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden, the need for love is emphasized as the major plot device.

In both films, the girl–Natalie Wood in Rebel Without Cause and Julie Harris in East of Eden–switches her initial attraction from one boy (in the former) or one brother (in the latter) to another.

As many scholars have pointed out, the narratives of these films reduce all desires, hopes, coercions and deprivations to the simple formula of  the universal need for love.

This was the convenient explanation of mainstream Hollywood for the increasing confusion, alienation, and estrangement of American youths of all classes, especially the middle or upper stratum.