The Technically Beautiful A Streetcar Named Desire

        The 1951 cinematic adaptation of Tennesee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan, was a brilliant masterpiece as cinema goes. The lighting was fantastic as were the writing, the cast, and the various technical shots of the film. This story being told accurately relied on using all of the technical cinematic aspects as possible to really allow the audience to see the truth in each character.

        The first example of this that I found in the film occurred when Stanley (Marlon Brando) asks Blanche (Vivien Leigh) about her earlier marriage. The camera shoots to her as we see the camera then roll in on a close-up of her face. The emotion she shows as the shot is closing in on her, indicates that the whole world seems to be collapsing in on her.

        Again we see how technically and symbolically beautiful this film is when Stanley goes after his wife, Stella (Kim Hunter), who has left him to run up the stairs to the above apartment. He screams in this primordial tone calling for his wife, “Stellaaaaah!”, and soon as if it is reflex we see Stella come down the steps looking seductively at her husband as if she has heard the call and is reacting with such animal instinct. This whole scene seems to symbolize to me how very much like animals we as humans can be at times.

        One final example of the cinematic beauty in this film is seen when Mitch (Karl Malden) comes to confront Blanche on the stories he has heard. We hear this cry in the background as does Blanche; and she seems to be drawn to these cries as she opens the door to find a woman holding flowers crying: “Flowers for the dead?” Blanche is horrified by this and slams the door, trying to run from what seems to be her foreshadowed fate. Even later once Stanley arrives, she is caught by the watchful eye of the woman carrying these, “flowers for the dead”; and again she is frightened, as if she now knows she cannot escape her downfall.

        This film seems to capture so many aspects of the play that Tennessee Williams made perfect in 1947. The film gives so many clues to the rest of the story and is technically flawless in its presentation of the story of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Kristin Meschler

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