Act Against the Mainstream

     Tennessee Williams did a remarkable job choosing a title for this play. After reading the 1947 play, with its the title, A Streetcar Named Desire, I thought the work displayed the fact that the characters involved in the play were in much need of some help. Blanche DuBois. Stanley, and Stella all desired something; it is too bad they did not have the car to jump in and run from what they were faced with. What they needed was a magical streetcar that they could hop into and find all their desires at the end of their journey. As a matter of fact, precisely the opposite happens. Blanche is left with none of the diamonds and riches she desires and in the end finds herself in the nut house, while Stella and Stanley remain in a hostile marriage, only adding baby to all their problems. In the 1951 film version of this book directed by Elia Kazan, the characters which played Blanche (Vivien Leigh), Stanley (Marlon Brando), and Stella (Kim Hunter) did an excellent job of putting onto the screen what I read in Williams' play.

     Blanche's character captured me because of how well she portrayed a woman suffering from severe bipolar disease. I have heard of the disease and knew only of the incredible ups and downs that one can suffer over short periods of time. Though completely different from what is shown on today's Lifetime movies on Channel 41, the effects that bipolar disease can have on one's family or the people surrounding one's everyday life are amazing. I have always related much better to recent movies and films in any case because they deal with a time period and situations that I am familiar with. I was surprisingly pleased that Kazan's 1951 play could actually occur in today's society, as I am sure that somewhere it must. It was as though everyone in the house was made to suffer from the disease along with Blanche. In the film it led Stanley to rape, and Stella to leave her husband. It was as if one were subject to someone who was so crazy, that before too long, one would go crazy trying to deal with it.

     Vivien Leigh could have easily overacted the part and made it seem unreal, or even funny. She kept me feeling sorry for her, and I often took her side in family arguments because I thought the people in the house, especially Stanley, should have been more understanding. People suffering from this disease, after all, have no idea what they are doing when they are on a high or low. Although I did not find the movie or the play to be extremely climactic or emotional, the fact that Stanley was so bitter to her and her condition kept my attention throughout the entire story. It is for this reason that I thought Williams wrote a great play. Most people who read the story will have an opinion on the disease, and one hopes that people will be understanding when it comes to people who are ill or even crazy. Stanley did not fit into this mainstream opinion that society should be caring of the sick, and willing to help, especially if it involves family members.

     So hooray to Brando for acting out the character that we are so used to not seeing on our present Lifetime movies. Instead of accepting Blanche's condition, he chooses to ridicule her and make her life more difficult than it already was. Though I do not agree with the way his character acted, it made me mad enough to never take my eyes of the screen, or my face out of the book!

Rebecca Reville

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