Flavor and Essence

         Most good food has a spectacular flavor. When one thinks about it, even different types of food like Italian, Cajun, and Mexican all have a certain essence about them. In many ways, films and books have a similar essence. Each film and novel has its own flavor. But when a film is adapted from a novel, it is difficult for both the book and the film to have the same kind of essence. Luckily, some film adaptations actually give off the same type of essence as their source material.

         Though few book and film combinations meet this standard of sharing the same type of essence, one in particular comes to mind: A Streetcar Named Desire, which was written for the stage in 1947 by Tennessee Williams and filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan. I feel that both the play and the film have the same essential flavor.

         Many different elements give both the book and film versions of Streetcar the same type of essence and flavor. If I had to choose one such element from the play and the film, it would have to be the New Orleans city setting. As one reads the play, one realizes the storyline takes place in a growing and busy city, and the reader gets a feel for what is going on in the book. When one understands that there is always something happening in the city, one can relate that to something happening in the storyline. It is easy to understand that one of the characters is going to say or do something. This is one aspect that gives this play a busy and dramatic essence and flavor.

         After one reads the play and begins to watch the film, it is all too easy to be recaptured by the same essence as the book. Once again, the story is set in the city of New Orleans, so the film also has a busy essence. As one watches the film, he or she becomes aware of how much more the city plays a role in the characters emotions because they behave in accord with the mood of the city. If the city is loud, the actors are loud. The dramatic essence of the play does not come until later in the film. It is not until the end that viewers see what a dramatic effect the movie has. I think that this dramatic high point is at the end when Blanche (Vivien Leigh) has her breakdown and goes to the nuthouse because she has no other options. I believe that this is also the most dramatic part of the play as well.

         In conclusion, I think films and books are like different foods; they all have their own flavor and essence. For both a film adaptation and its source material to carry this fine quality is really special.

Crystal Pittman

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