Not a Rare Find

         If I were to teach an assigned film to a particular group on a certain issue, it would be Elia Kazan's 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play. Although I did not particularly enjoy this film, it did a good job depicting certain family issues. Those which were brought up in the film dealt with abusive relationships and women's issues. Issues like these are very common today, and by showing this, a person could think on what exactly is taking place.

         A scene in this film which stood out the most was the scene when Stella (Kim Hunter) runs downstairs and back to her husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando), after he physically strikes her during a game of poker. This scene shows exactly what type of relationship she is in and hints at what is going through Stella's mind when she continues to be treated this way.

         The first impression I had when viewing this film was puzzlement. Why would Stella continue to stay with Stanley? Physical abuse in relationships seems common these days, and those who have been in a similar situation find her actions to be ridiculous. By teaching this film to a group, one might find it easier to explain what the reasons were behind her actions, as well as Stanley's. It is not to say that Stella had good reasons for staying; no person should take that kind of treatment. However, this film was made in 1951; and women did not feel they had much choice in the matter. Most had nowhere else to go. In the film, Stella did not seem to mind what went on, and even to her, this was common. In one particular part, Stella even told her sister, Blanche (Vivien Leigh), that this treatment was exciting.

         The reactions to this statement can go both ways. Personally, I think this was just Stella's way of convincing herself it was OK. It is difficult to know how other individuals would react to this film. The content is disturbing, but sadly I believe the reactions would not be very extreme, considering there are always some types of articles, movies, or books based on these issues. This particular film-literature combination incorporated different endings. In the play, Stella takes Stanley back after her sister's rape, but in the movie, it is unclear if she returns.

         Despite the different endings, it does not affect the presentation of what issues are expressed. After all, both versions of A Streetcar Named Desire make good points by exaggerating controversial issues.

Sharel Carter

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