Who Needs Imagination?

         How many times have you heard that movies take the imagination out of a great book? A movie adaptation is ultimately the way one reader saw the characters and events in his or her head. The audience is then forced to see the same images. I am not one to argue with that sort of solid logic. There is definitely an imaginative quality about reading a book that is not offered in movies. A book gives you the option to see what you want to see. A movie is very clear cut visually.

         In Tennessee Williams' 1947 Streetcar Named Desire, the reader meets a very tough, very mean-spirited Stanley Kowalski. He is a young man from the Deep South with the attitude and mouth to prove it. After reading the play, only a feeling that can be described as hatred is left. He beats his wife. He rapes his sister-in-law. He is manipulative and repulsive.

         The most sickening thing he does is systematically break down Blanche. He could tell from the day she moves in that she is weak. Signs clearly point to the fact that she is not quite "playing with a full deck." Yet Stanley, compelled to discover her secrets and reveal them, never backs off. He pushes and pushes until finally Blanche dips into a completely psychotic state. Is Stanley pleased with himself?--Quite! In the play, Stanley gets away with all of his crimes. Blanche leaves, and Stella stays.

         After reading Streetcar, I did not much care for Stanley Kowalski; and I thought that Stella was the stupidest human being on earth for putting up with his tirades.

         In Elia Kazan's 1951 movie, Streetcar Named Desire, when Marlon Brando hits the screen, it is a completely different ball game. A comment was made during a class discussion that, because of Brando's looks, he was much more liked in the movie. This is very true. Despite the fact that we hate Stanley, Brando does provide very pleasing eye candy. I could not stand his presence while reading the play, but who does not want to see the young, trim Marlon Brando on a huge silver screen?

         This led me to another realization. Movies have quit being about stories or adventures. Now movies are all about lead roles, name recognition, and $20 million dollar salaries. It is about big money and big special effects. Any movie these days has to be done on a huge scale, or it will not make any money. Does Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings sound familiar?

Casey McMillen

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