World of Illusion

         The Pulitzer Prize winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947, was superbly adapted to film by Elia Kazan in 1951. I absolutely loved this story and feel it was played out wonderfully. There is a high level of conflict between Stanley (Marlon Brando), who contributes a sense of simple and gritty realism to the film, and Blanche (Vivien Leigh), who imparts a flighty air of illusion and fragile vulnerability to the screen.

         Blanche attempts to escape the actuality of her lonely life of promiscuity, lies, and death. She neurotically worries about her age and appearance and goes great lengths to not be seen in bright light. She seeks solace in hiding from herself and the world. She drinks to forget her problems and babbles on-and-on about unimportant subjects to fill awkward silences. She constantly bathes to rid herself of the dirty feelings brought about by her former promiscuous lifestyle. Her constant preoccupation with light shows that she is hiding from the world and does not want to be seen as who she really is.

         Stanley recognizes Blanche's attempt to create a sense of illusion about herself, but he is so insensitive that he does not realize her pain. He soon turns the spotlight on Blanche and destroys the illusion she has created for Stella and her new boyfriend, Mitch (Karl Malden). Once out of the safety of dim light, Blanche loses her grasp on reality and lives in an insane dreamworld to avoid the pain and drama of her true life.

         One can only hope that, eventually, Blanche will face her true self and rebuild her life. If there were a sequel, I would like to see Blanche face reality. If she stops putting so much effort into creating a dream world and more into realizing what is actually happening in her life, she would be able to be happy in the light of day.

Jemekka Stray

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