Censorship?

     A Street Named Desire, a movie directed by Elia Kazan, is based on the 1947 play by Tennessee Williams. This 1951 film version of the play created mass controversy due to its vulgarity and decadent nature relative to the time it was produced. The controversy arose even after five minutes of footage were cut from the movie. Just imagine what the reactions would have been if the film makers had left those five minutes of racy footage in the movie. What they did not realize is the fact that they took out five of the most crucial minutes of the movie that gave the film its raw intensity. The cut eliminated the information about the characters that reveals who they really are and exposes their warped obsessions.

     The dialogue that suggests to us Blanche's lusty attraction for young boys was one piece cut out of the movie. This takes away the revelation of the true Blanche as is shows just how far her lust and obsession can take her. A vital part of Blanche's character, played by Vivien Leigh, is her struggle with the loss of her sexuality and with aging. The obsession with young men gives us part of that understanding. One can take it as a psychological understanding of keeping her youth by surrounding herself with youth.

     The most revealing scenes and dialogue cut in the movie were portrayed by Kim Hunter and Marlon Brando and showed Stella's warped sense of desire for Stanley. One instance is seen when Stanley is bellowing Stella's name after they have a huge fight. In the censored version, Stella simply stands up and walks down the stairs dutifully to Stanley. The few shots in the original that are different are big enough to make one's hair stand on end. Her entire demeanor is different. She is charged with passion and lust. The look on her face tells of her deranged desire for her husband as she surrenders herself to him. another set of dialogue that reveals Stella's sexual turn-ons with Stanley is evident when she tells Blanch about the honeymoon when she was aroused as Stanley smashed the light bulbs with her shoe. A huge part of this movie is about Stella and Stanley's raw intense sexuality. How can one understand the film if what it is based on is cut out of the movie?

     The director Elia Kazan fought against the cuts and lost. The public lost so much of the movie's essence in that missing five minutes. It was not until the 1993 restoration that we were allowed to see the true characters of Streetcar.

Amy Houck

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