Williams Gets Cheated

         I believe Tennessee Williams would be dissatisfied with the censorship of Elia Kazan's 1951 film version of Williams' 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire. The original version does an amazing job depicting the author's descriptions. The black-and-white film adds to the story's references to the dark desires of its characters. The film adaptation of Streetcar is amazing; but, because of its censorship, it cannot reach its full potential or what Williams would have expected it to be.

         It is Williams' intention for this story to be one of questionable content. Its purpose is to discuss the basic desires of man, including sexual desire. Stella cannot get over her desire to be with Stanley; that is her reason for staying with him. Stanley desires Stella and Blanche; that is his reason for being aggressive toward them both. Blanche desires her youth and all men; this is her reason for being obsessed with her looks. When the Kazan film was forced to remove many of its questionable scenes, the film lost some of its purpose and meaning. The edited version leaves the audience with questions about the characters' desires.

         What really happened to the husband of Blanche (Vivien Leigh)? Why does Blanche have such a strong desire to be with so many men? What happened to the night Stella (Kim Hunter) has the baby? Does Stanley (Marlon Brando) rape Blanche? Williams does not intend to leave the audience wondering. I can imagine Emily Brontë would be upset with the way Luis Buñuel ends his 1954 film version of her 1847 Wuthering Heights, titled Los Abismos de Pasión, and Henrik Ibsen would be disappointed with Jane Fonda's portrayal of Nora in Joseph Losey's 1973 adaptation of his 1879 A Doll's House. But neither of them has as much of a right to be as disappointed as Williams, who has to deal with the edited version of his script.

Allison Webster

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