An Actor's Interpretation

        Often a film adapted from a great and popular piece of literature is judged on the portrayal of the main characters. Were the film versions of the protagonists and antagonists of the same basic nature to those in the novel? Did the characters in the film appear how we pictured them to exist while we read the literature? While I believe the two media, literature and film, should be judged and critiqued separately, it is often the case that a film adaptation is assessed based on its literary counterpart. And apart from capturing the fundamental and crucial essence of the novel, the film adaptations are essentially judged on the interpretations of the characters. Readers spend a lot of time with these characters; forming mental illustrations of them. Chances are if readers completed the whole novel or play and is viewing the film adaptation, they grew quite fond of these characters. It is only logical, then, to discern that a chief concern of this viewer is the portrayal of these characters.

        It can be argued that the actor or actress playing these adapted roles is just as responsible for the essence of the characters as the script or the director. The actor can make or break the adaptation. He or she can fail to capture the core of the character, or they can improve upon the character and make the film even better. A great example of this can be found in Elia Kazanís 1951 film of Tennessee Williamsís 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire. Marlon Brandon plays Stanley Kowalski, husband of Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter). When Stella's sister (Vivien Leigh) appears in New Orleans to stay with the two, a clash erupts between Brando's and Leigh's characters, with the two vying for sway over Stella. Brando could have taken this character and portrayed him many different ways. If played straightforward, Stanley would have likely been an evil, slimy character from the beginning and disliked by most of the audience from the start. Brando, however, does something only a truly great actor can; he creates depth, charisma, and a likable character who is also brutish, intimidating, and violent; all with complete believability. This creates a complex and engrossing relationship between Stanley and the audience, one that would not have been there if Stanley were a normal villain. This is a great example of an actor taking a character from a piece of literature and bringing it to life like only cinema can, and Brando was a master at this

Darryl Brandon Clark