Streetcar Drives Home while Heights Tumbles Down

     Throughout this semester, the English 213 class that I am enrolled in has watched a total of nine films that were based on earlier pieces of literary works. Some of these films made incredible adaptations out of the original works. Some of these adaptations were mediocre compared to the original work. There were even a few of these films that made pitiful attempts at trying to capture what the author had in mind when writing his/her work. There were two films this semester that made the biggest impression on me. The first of these films is Elia Kazan's 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, which I felt made the most successful film adaptation out of all of the movies we watched. The second film is the Spanish language version of Wuthering Heights, Los Abismos de Pasion, directed in 1954 by Luis Buńuel. This film seemed to me to be the least successful at portraying its original work, in this case the 1847 novel by Emily Brontė.

     Streetcar proved to me to be the most impressive adaptation for many different reasons. The first reason is that the story line in this film was identical to the one in Tennessee Williams' original play. This seemed to be a pretty important factor in producing adaptation because many of the other films strayed from the original story line and failed miserably.

     Another factor that helped Streetcar be a success was that the characters in Williams' play were so perfectly acted by the respective actors that were chosen. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the actors' performances in this film. Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, and Kim Hunter all portrayed their characters as if they had been born into Stanley, Blanche, and Stella's lives. Brando was just as irresistibly handsome, rough, and unrefined as I had imagined him.Everything about him seemed to add to his performance as Stanley. Vivien Leigh made the character of Blanche appear just as crazy as she had been in the play. Kim Hunter made Stella seem as sweet and innocent as I had imagined her as well.

     The music, scored by Alex North, in this film seemed to fit perfectly as well. It never distracted me away from the story. It was elevated just enough when it was needed to be. The music even seemed sultry and seductive when Blanche was around.

     I would have to say that Tennessee Williams' play was the best of the plays we read this semester because of the wonderful lines that he wrote . A large part of this film's success, in my opinion, was due to the fact that it used the majority of the original scripted lines. There were not any that were added that took away from the film, unlike the case with most of the other films we saw. Overall, everything about A Streetcar Named Desire seemed to work together to create a wonderful film that depicted Tennessee Williams' work perfectly.

     Los Abismos de Pasion, on the other hand, was just the opposite. Nothing about it was impressive to me. The biggest problem I had with this film was that it cut out over half of Emily Brontė's original novel. The half that was omitted was, in my opinion, the best part of the book. So, this change somewhat altered the story line.

     The actors in this film were not impressive either. They seemed to be overly dramatic. For example, the vampire-looking kisses that Heathcliff (Alejandro, played by Jorge Mistral) continued to plant on the women in his life were a little much for this film. Alejandro also did not fit the physical picture I had had of Heathcliff from the book. The actor was not as dark and sultry as I had imagined Heathcliff to be. Catherine (Catalina, portrayed by Irasema Dillian) was also a little more feminine than Catherine had been in the book. Dillian's Catalina acted like a helpless, defenseless woman. In the novel, I had thought of her as a stronger character.

     The lines in this film were distracting to me as well. They were all so short and choppy. It seemed as though they had been written with a children's film in mind rather than for an adult audience it was intended for. Emily Brontė's novel was a wonderful work with beautiful lines throughout the entire piece. How the scriptwriter, film producer, and director could have turned such a work into this pitiful film is beyond me.

     Overall, I would say that I was overly impressed with A Streetcar Named Desire, and devastated with Los Abismos de Pasion. It seems a little suspicious to me that we watching the worst film near the beginning of the semester and ended with the best adaptation. Perhaps, Mrs. Roulston planned this from the beginning.

Regina Clark

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