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|Index||176 reviews in total|
America and American Movies were No Doubt Feeling Their Cheerios in the
1950's. So Much So that Often Removing that 50's Patina was Difficult
when Transitioning to Other Periods of Time. This Movie Reeks of the
Decade that it was Made and 1917 is Present Only in Reserve.
James Dean, a Quintessential Icon of the New Breed, the Post War Youth with Something to Say and a Anti-Establishment Way of Saying it. The Rather Calculated Movie Art of Their Father's Generation was Being Challenged and Broken Down with "Method" Acting and Improvisational Experiment.
Dean's Mannerisms, Wardrobe, and Hair-Style were So Firmly Fastened to the Contemporary the WWI Years were Having a Difficult Time Breaking Through, and the Period Comes Off as Artificial and Distant. This Leaves Some of the Background of the Story Thin and Wispy.
Julie Harris is Better and Dominates the Screen Despite Deans Dramatic Displays of Body Language that Draw Attention, and Not in a Good Way. The Rest of the Cast is Fine, Especially Jo Ann Fleet as the Mother.
Not a Bad Film, but Hardly a Great One. It's Even Worse Today with a Dated Feel and it Has Lost its Appeal as Something Seething and Seems Overrated but Above Average. The Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel from John Steinbeck has Many Admirers and Most Seem Extremely Disappointed. But to be Fair, this is Film and Not Prose.
Overall, Worth a Watch for its Place in Popular Culture, to See James Dean and Puzzle Over His God-Like Status, and for a Pretty Standard Studio Production that is Typical of Well Crafted Filmmaking from Ultra-Conservative Movie Studios that were Cautiously Concerned About New Trends and This was About as Daring as it Got in the Decade.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OK, the book is a masterpiece, very layered and beautifully and intelligently written with complex characters and plenty of emotional wallop. It is a very wordy and sometimes sprawling book as well as a long one, so when it comes to be adapted things will be missed out. The film may not the greatest of adaptations, it's not as complex, Kate and Aron are far more interesting in the book(Aron could be seen as the driving force and Kate is not a plot device) and there's the omission of Lee(the one that could be seen as the character who links everything together). Despite all that though, as a film on its own- which is a much fairer way to judge because book and film are two different mediums, there are plenty of films that are not good adaptations but are great films- East of Eden is still a great film and a powerful one too. With the only flaw for me being the occasionally heavy handed direction with an over-reliance of camera tilts, sure they are deliberate choices to show the character contrasts and how distorted the relationship with Cal and his father has become but there were parts where the technique technique wasn't needed like at the dinner table. Timothy Carey's voice not sounding like Timothy Carey is a touch jarring, but not enough to be a flaw. Kazan's direction is mostly fine though and East of Eden is a wonderfully-made film, sumptuous in colour and brilliantly shot(excepting a few of the tilted camera shots), especially in the poppy field which hasn't aged a jot and actually looks as though it was shot outdoors. Some of it is clever too like with Dean standing in the doorway, the shadow that you see very symbolic of how twisted and vengeful Cal is by this point. Leonard Rosenman's score is very lush-sounding with a very sophisticated vibe, enhancing the mood in every scene beautifully. East of Eden is very intelligently written if wordy like in the book and the story is still compelling and powerful, the ending and Cal giving his father the money and his father rejecting it are heart-breaking scenes. A lot of the details from the book may not be there but the spirit and the meaning of it are. The characters drive the film very well and are interesting, especially Cal who is a very tormented character who we do feel lots of empathy for. And the acting is great, Julie Harris may be too mature but her performance is still full of innocence and compassion, Burl Ives is a charming presence, Jo Van Fleet makes Kate very memorable and layered despite her quite short screen time, Raymond Massey is perfect as the at times controlling father and Richard Davalos' screen debut is a wonderful one, you hate him at first but in the climatic scene for instance you do feel empathy for him. But the best performance does come from James Dean who is superb and the emotional power of his performance really hit home with me. His role in Rebel Without a Cause may be more iconic(and for good reason) but his role as Cal is played with more depth I feel. Overall, as an adaptation East of Eden may not be great and will leave fans wanting but as a film it is truly excellent with a lot of powerful things. 9/10 Bethany Cox
Clearly, Dean was one of the defining actors of the youthful 1950's.
Rebel without a Cause (1955) may have registered more strongly with the
cool cats of the time. Nonetheless, in my little book, this is the film
that represents the actor's enduring triumph. Here Cal's (Dean) yawning
emotional needs are on raw display, the tics, grimaces, writhings. All
are excruciatingly expressive. At times it's over the top, but few can
doubt the sincerity. In fact, it appears to be the real Dean on screen,
and not an actor.
Then too, Dean was lucky. He got one of the best young actresses of that day or any day in Julie Harris. Her lack of glamor is a real plus. That way her rather plain looks don't get in the way of a growing emotional bond with a needy Cal (Dean). I count the beanfield and ferris wheel scenes as two of the best boy-girl on record. Catch how naturally they're drawn to each other, only to shrink away at the last moment. It's like they're fearful of some kind of forbidden attraction. Still, before emotions can straighten out, the confused Cal must straighten himself out. That means getting straight with his imperious father (Massey). Then too, Abra (Harris) needs to trust her emotions rather than lifeless convention with Aaron (Davalos). Now if Dad could just stop seeing his detested ex-wife in Cal, he might bend a little. After all, having principles is not enough. They should first be the right principles, and excluding a son because of one of them is not right. Thus, it's really Dad who needs to straighten out. Then Cal would have a chance.
And who better to play the emotionally constricted patriarch than the commanding Ray Massey. His scenes with Dean represent not only a clash of personalities but also a clash of acting styles. I gather the two actors didn't much like each other, which is not surprising. Anyway, the supporting parts are also well done. I especially like the often overlooked Lois Smith as the fearful, fluttery servant girl. She's really Cal's emotional counterpart, even though in a small role. I've long sympathized with Dick Davalos in the thankless role of the prissy Aaron. That, plus being overshadowed by the most compelling young actor of the day, was surely a misfortune. As a side note, filming in the Salinas Valley was a real plus, lending a large canvas to the intense drama.
Despite the sometimes sprawling screenplay, the movie remains an emotional powerhouse, thanks to Dean, Harris, and director Kazan. In fact, casting the untried Dean in the role of Cal remains one of moviedom's most memorable moments. While in terms of a meteoric body of work, the young actor checked out at about the right time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Growing up, I always heard the name James Dean linked to his
performance in Rebel Without a Cause. It's more well known than East of
Eden, but after watching both films, I can honestly say that Dean's
performance in Eden is a more powerful performance.
From the first moment Dean appears on screen, it's impossible to take your eyes off of him. Dean gives an amazing, layered performance as Cal Trask, a son looking for answers about the supposed death of his mother and longing for the approval of his father.
In East of Eden, Dean is the original "Emo". He's brooding, angry, sad and haunting; sometimes all in the same scene.
East of Eden is basically a tale of good versus evil. Cal being the evil and his brother Aron being the good. The parallels to the Bible's Caine and Abel are obviously apparent.
Sibling rivalry in film is endlessly entertaining for me. Both of my parents have a sibling of the same sex. They often tell me (and my twin sister) about some of the struggles of growing up with a sibling of the same gender.
East of Eden is also a beautifully shot film. There are a few scenes where the camera is tilted and off kilter. It helps to add a sense of discomfort and disorientation. My favorite scene is the one where Dean is on a swing and is having a conversation with his father. Dean only replies to his father while in the foreground. Also, the gentle swaying of the camera adds to the building tension.
Probably my favorite shot from the film is where Cal has just left his brother with his mother, and stands out in the hallway. He casts a demented shadow on the floor that grows larger as he begins walking. Just good stuff.
Without giving too much away, the most memorable scene is when Cal tries to give his father the money. The scene is so sad and chilling. Anybody who has ever been denied appreciation for an accomplishment from a parent, will probably be brought to tears.
In the end, I think East of Eden has kind of gotten overshadowed by Rebel Without a Cause. Kind of like how Cal gets overshadowed by his brother. A pure must see classic indeed.
a good film. it is first impression and this definition is more realistic after a new view. this case can not be a surprise because the movie is brilliant work of a remarkable team. sure, James Dean is the star but out of his biographic lines; more than a role, he makes a fascinating puzzle of nuances and force. but his splendid contribution is to transform Cal in a mirror and support of the others. for his colleagues, his public, novel spirit. a film like an experience. because more than an adaptation it remains inspired translation or ordinary facts. one of precise masterpieces by Kazan. and little more. because Abel and Cain are common parts of everybody.
I recently watched this and became sad, for the reason that I would not be able to watch it all for the first time again. This is what drama should be! Forget the farce that was Rebel Without a Cause, to me this is what James Dean is about, raw acting and good looks to boot. The rest of the cast is great too and the chemistry sizzles. Some of the movie has dated a little, but it still remains timeless and enjoyable. You fall in love with the characters as they fall in love, it was two hours that I am proud to have spent on my couch. For some this may be hard to watch, but for me it is an all time favorite. This is the reason James Dean's legacy has lived on for decades, East of Eden is a treasure that showcases what he could've been capable if he were alive today.
The East of Eden is a grandiloquent expression of contemporary film drama and had a melodramatic title in Brazil: "Bitter Lives". Numerous artists such as Depp, DiCaprio and Cruise imitated interpretation full swings Dean. Leaving a misunderstood hero posture, to a critic of his own script, and ultimately the film itself just has finish the unilateral show from the screen to the viewer. The character hero-season breaks up the dialog with the audience the values that society seeks to stabilize and perpetuate. Good and evil switch sides all the time, making the viewer question the hegemonic values. An interpretation that seeks a kind of unconscious identification with the viewer's skepticism. For this reason, it is certainly a film that helps us understand the cinema as made today. While in a thematic level the rejection of heroic values of a militarized society, the films as played by Dean, is a light to understand how the anti-hero has become the hero of a disenchanted youth in the 60s.
The film that made Dean a star. Cal Trask is a teenager living in Salinas valley during the first world war. Everyday he constantly struggles to win the affection of his bible bashing father who directs all his love towards his brother Aron , his quest leads him to discover who is mother is and what she is compelling him to connect with his father. Dean's first major motion picture , and he shines in the role as the sullen and hard done by Cal , Dean gives the character a sense of realism that makes the viewer feel the angst and emotional suffering that Cal feels , while all the performances in the film are great it is Dean who makes the film a masterpiece , Elia Kazan's best film above On the waterfront and A streetcar named desire. An exceptional film that was one of the first to address the troubled youths of the fifties and still speaks out to them today along with Dean's second film Rebel without a cause.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have pretty much hated anything by Steinbeck I was forced to read in
school, so I would probably have avoided this film if I had known it
was adapted from his work.
An interesting film. A young man who tries to figure out how to be "good" like his brother supposedly is, seeking his father's love & approval - but lacks any impulse control and is too 'wild"
However, he keeps trying to find the easy way out & only seems to consider the short-term consequences of his actions. He steals a chute to make work easier. He dates the "easy" girls who come on to him. He tries to buy his father's affection by getting into war profiteering and commodity speculation - seeing only his gain of money but not the consequences of his actions on the farmers & people who have to pay the higher prices.
He has no self-control- he lashes out, he throws rocks at windows, he tries to wreck his father's purchase of an ice-house, he sneaks in to confront his mom, he poaches his brother's girlfriend, he leaps into fights, he tries to hurt his brother and ends up driving him off to a war he doesn't support (that will mostly likely lead to his death), this action ends up probably killing his father who has a stroke.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think that this is James Dean's best movie. The raw emotion of him
trying so desperately to receive affection brings tears to me eyes.
When he gave his father all of the money that he had earned and his
father didn't take it my heart dropped. My favorite part was when he
was decorating the room for his fathers birthday and then they were
waiting for him to come home and he was so nervous and excited.
I thought it was a nice touch to have the camera swinging with him while he was on the swing in his backyard. And I really like the irony at the end.
Some things I didn't like about the film was Abbra (?) came off as very annoying to me, and I knew right away that that lady was his mother. And some parts were kind of awkward.
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