"East of Eden" [1955]

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Abishai100, Jul 1, 2018.

  1. Abishai100
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    Abishai100 VIP Member

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    East of Eden is a 1955 film, directed by Elia Kazan, and loosely based on the second half of the 1952 novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. It is about a wayward young man who, while seeking his own identity, vies for the affection of his deeply religious father against his favored brother, thus retelling the story of Cain and Abel.

    The film stars Julie Harris, James Dean (in his first major screen role), and Raymond Massey. It also features Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet, and was adapted by Paul Osborn. (source of information: Wikipedia).

    James Dean makes a stunning film debut here as the emotionally-tortured Cal whose strange hypotheses and eschewed outlook on life complicated his undesirable dynamic with his father, brother, and estranged mother. We get a modernized telling of the Cain-Abel fable presentation of human envy, and we see some slick modern 'dialogue' representing the characters' pensiveness about the timelessness of values.

    Everyone does a good job on this unusual but iconic film, and the direction is nearly-perfect. The camera-work is also very professional, which is why I give this more artistic American film 5/5 stars if I afford a more 'classic' and 'sweeping/bravado-rich' Hollywood (USA) film of equal calibre such as The Guns of Navarone also 5/5 stars!




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    Any movie collector will tell you that a poster for this iconic Kazan film surely beckons memories about what comprises the magic of American storytelling, from Washington Irving and Walt Whitman to Orson Welles and Tim Burton. That's because this Kazan film captures an American aesthetic interest in capturing human drama in art and performance. We think about why stories represent a sociocultural 'attitude' which is arguably what makes this film special!

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    All the interplay between Cal and the other characters sparks off great romantic ideas regarding the applicability of 'classic values' in a rapidly-changing world becoming eerily more and more 'efficient' (arguably at the expense of diligent conversation). Dean rightly captures what makes Cal both sensitive/appealing and self-destructive/anti-social. We think about why movies capture our fascination with daydreams and even delusions. Dean is even unnerving as a man who could mentally 'snap.'

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    As the story unfolds, we think about why Cal might not feel the joys of love from his estranged mother or from some young woman who just might fall in love with this eccentric American young man. Cal is haunted by his own outlook but feels he is being 'sullied' by the world around him, making his outlandish gestures to reach out to the only people he feels possess any sincere sensitivity (women) seem rather tragic and clumsy. However, Kazan is giving us a portrait of why stories in history and culture bring out the 'emotional voyeur' in us.

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    An audiobook of the Steinbeck novel this Kazan is based on certainly qualifies as 'cerebral summer entertainment' but I'd recommend this film before the book, since Kazan is doing something very unique, which Dean's performance really brings out --- the 'sensory-rich' aspects of 'forgettable emotions'! That's something very few film-makers try to capture --- Kazan is one of them; and I'd argue Woody Allen, Anthony Minghella, and Warren Beatty also try this 'trick.' Kazan scores big-time with Dean here...making 1955's East of Eden a 'cool collectible.'

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    All kinds of people have seen this film, generating all kinds of socially symbolic responses. However, in the end, because Kazan presents a story about socialization and alienation in a modernized setting (with automobiles and emerging suburbia in America), we have to realize that despite what your reaction is to this film, you won't be able to deny its searing portrait of American life gone mad (so the Biblical allegory I'd say is very very 'atmospheric' only).

    Enjoy!


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    :dance:

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  2. Hossfly
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    Hossfly ZIONUT Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    It's playing right now on TCM.
     
  3. Ridgerunner
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    Ridgerunner 'Ole Wise One' Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Movie making has gone the way of music making imo… Heavy reliance on technology... Classic films such as the subject of this OP relied on theatrical ability of the characters and a Directors Guidance... No profanity or cheap skin shots drove this film... And not one green screen...

    Thank you Abishai100
     
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  4. Ridgerunner
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    Ridgerunner 'Ole Wise One' Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Addendum to post #3...

    The life of Ridgerunner went into Production in very late '53' or early '54'... Like to report no one was hurt and the use of green screens were prohibited... :04:
     
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  5. harmonica
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    harmonica Gold Member

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    ..exactly--seems like they try to make some films today just for the teeny boppers
    ...the profanity is outrageous ....Primal Fear with Richard Gere using the F word all the time, comes to mind
    .
     
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  6. whitehall
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    whitehall Platinum Member

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    It's always a mistake to base your opinion of movies on sycophant hollywood reviews. James Dean played James Dean in almost every movie he made. "Giant" is the possible exception.
     
  7. Gracie
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    Gracie Diamond Member

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    Loved Giant.
     
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  8. whitehall
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    whitehall Platinum Member

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    It's amazing when you think of it how two or three seconds can make a difference in history. If Dean stopped to grab a beer or a coke or smoke a cigarette he would not have hit the intersection at the exact same time as the kid who drove the truck.
     

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