In thinking of films that are able to exemplify many film elements that are put together in an interesting and organized manner the movie Rumble Fish comes to mind. Rumble Fish is a film about growing up and seeing new things that one has never been seen before, common to the typical American teenager trying to find his or her place in society by battling such topics as self awareness and maturity. Rumble Fish tells the story of two brothers, not in opposition, but in stark contrast with one another. Rusty James the younger brother of Motorcycle Boy is your typical gang member of the 70s. He is being pulled in many directions by the people in his life, mainly by his elder brother who goes by the name; The Motorcycle Boy. Rusty James is a restless and lonely kid who struggles against his brother’s personality the whole movie.
Rusty James views his older brother as a hero, and insists that he will one day be like his brother who he looks upon with religious devotion. Everyone in the community just as Rusty James does, views Motorcycle Boy as a prince of peace, a brother of man, a spiritual leader who speaks in parables. He promotes Rusty James to follow in his everyday footsteps. Rusty James’ problems stem from early in life, when his mother decided to leave when he was only two. Although their mother is never seen, she is mentioned a few times, and she is said to be a lot like Rusty James, who doesnt know what they are looking for and what they are supposed to do with their lives.
Ever since then, Rusty James has felt choked whenever he is abandoned or lonely. Common in most teenagers, Rusty James is seemingly battling his inner-self and needs to release this anger in some sort of fashion. Typical of a gang member he resorts this inner anger out in fighting. Rusty James is an up and coming street hoodlum, who rumbles with fellow neighborhood gang members. Rusty James breaks this inner demon by fighting Biff Wilcox, in which Rusty James gets seriously injured in the ordeal, fortunately enough he is rescued by his brother.
Again he finds himself battling his inner – self and losing, causing him to develop a low self esteem, just as any other teenager may go through. Over the next few days, Rusty James dead end life of posturing seems to fall apart. He loses his girlfriend, some of his own friends and his own sense of confidence. In result he looks upon his elder brother Motorcycle Boy for moral guidance. For Rusty James this looking up to his brother represents an absence of the mother as reflected in his fear of being alone, and his need for a stronger leader. The absence of a mother and a leader is something which is experienced by all who have difficult transition to adulthood.
Rusty James has visions of being an exact replica of Motorcycle Boy, which everyone in the neighborhood including his friends explain to him that will never happen. This is common to one during his or her teenage years who are looking for an ideal, someone who they can follow and learn from. Rumble Fish are fighting fish which, if put together, will try to kill each other or if the fish sees its own reflection, then it will repeatedly attack its own image. The fish therefore are a metaphor for Rusty James and his gang who are heading into self destruction through pointless gang warfare. As one can see, Rusty James is heading no where fast.
The on present of ticking of clocks, billowing of smoke originating from unseen locations and the use of painted shadows creates a subtle since of disorientation throughout. The sets attempt to focus on realism and the emotions of Rusty James.