Collateral Damage

         "Hello. I'm a man and I like to break things." A line like this could be spoken by at least two major characters that appear in films based on literary works. A trend that seems to appear in more than just one film adaptation of a literary work is that a major male character likes to break things.

         The first of these characters is Alejandro. Alejandro comes from the film Los Abismos de Pasion, directed by Luis Buñuel and based on the novel Wuthering Heights, written in 1847 by Emily Brontë. Alejandro is essentially the Mexican counterpart to the character of Heathcliff. The translation between characters is done pretty well, except that Alejandro, as portrayed by Jorge Mistral, tends to break things that get in his way. In numerous scenes throughout the film, Alejandro can be seen crashing through doors and windows. This is generally happening when he is trying to get into the neighboring farm to see Catalina (Iraseme Dilian). The fact that he breaks down doors and crashes through windows seems a little ridiculous. It also feels very unnecessary in the overall scheme of the film.

         The second character that this can apply to is the character of Stanley from the 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire. Directed by Elia Kazan, the film is based on the 1947 play of the same name by Tennessee Williams. Stanley's (Marlon Brando) big moment to break things is during his heated fight with his wife, Stella (Kim Hunter). Stanley starts fighting with Stella and in the process breaks many of the items in their home. One of the most notable happens to be the radio, which he throws out the window. Later in the play and the film, Stanley smashes the dishes that he is using during Blanche's (Vivien Leigh) birthday dinner after Stella has accused him of making a pig out of himself. This is somewhat different from what happened with Alejandro in that Stanley is seen breaking these items in both the play and film versions of Streetcar.

         Not all men in film adaptations of literary works like to cause collateral damage, but at least a couple of them seem to. One has become a breaker of windows during his transformation from book to film, while the other breaker transmits his original character intact to the film.

Jarrod Hurst

Table of Contents