In the classic 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, Vivien Leigh plays a magnificent role as Blanche DuBois. Throughout the movie Blanche is making a desperate effort to hide her true pain that she carries with her as a troubled individual. She portrays herself to be a well off, well-mannered innocent country southern belle. Even her job as an English teacher helps portray this image.
In the beginning of the movie, however, the viewers begin to see the true "crazy" side of Blanche. She begins to hear voices in her head. The viewers later learn in the movie that these voices are from a terrible incident that had happened to her when she was just a teenager. When she was sixteen, she was in love with a boy, whom she had lost. One night they had gone to the Moon Lake Casino. As they danced, the boy she loved broke away from her and ran outside. A few moments later she heard a shot, and everyone ran outside to gather around the edge of the lake where he lay dead. He had stuck a revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Blanche blames herself for his death. She says, "…it was because on the dance floor, unable to stop myself, I said you are weak." "I've lost respect for you." "I despise you." She believes these harsh words caused him to turn the revolver on himself. This story sets the tone for the voices she hears in her head throughout the movie.
Does Vivien Leigh do a good job portraying Blanche as a crazy lady? She does such a good job that the viewers begin to believe that she is not even playing a character on screen. The funny thing about that statement is Vivien Leigh herself was believed to have a mental disorder called Bi Polar disease. Who would have been better to play the role of a crazy lady than someone who has had such a similar personal experience?
In conclusion, Vivien Leigh plays Blanches character magnificently. To her advantage she is able to take her personal experiences and use them to build her character in the movie. There was really no better person for the role.