The Best and Worst of Film and Literature

     In all the works that we have studied in this course there are a few that have stood out. Some are good stories; some have fascinating cinematography is fascinating; and some are good reflections of the original work.

     The early cinematic version of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion, directed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, falls into all three categories. Pygmalion is a great story because it is a Cinderella story, a "rag to riches" tale. The cinematography was far advanced for its time, and the important element is the way it stayed so close to the original play. Although the ending was changed, it was a very good adaptation of Shaw's work.

     The best, however, had to be Elia Kazan's 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire. I was so incredibly impressed with this film. Just the casting of Marlon Brando as Stanley was sheer genius on the director's part because, just as he had in the original Broadway production, Brando played the character's part with such ease and grace. This could be because Tennessee Williams was so specific in this playwrighting that there was almost no way to detract from his vision. Williams had specifics on position, clothing and music. Streetcar was possibly the easiest play I have ever read.

     The worst adaptation had to be Luis Buńuel's 1954 Spanish version of Emily Brontė's 1847 Wuthering Heights, Los Abismos de Passion. This was just ridiculous. The characters were completely different; the dialogue was wrong; characters were missing; and the film did not even begin until all the children had grown. I will give the film makers credit for placing a disclaimer as the beginning. saying the film was in the "spirit of Emily Brontė's novel," but everything was wrong. Brontė should have never been associated with the film.

     The elements that make an adaptation good really means nothing if the work is not good in the first place. Things have to be omitted to put a novel, or play that spans generations in a matter of two hours; but, as shown here, it can be done, and done well, but alas not always.

Brandi Williams

Table of Contents