Play Called a Street Car Named Desire Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams. Specifically, it will compare and contrast the book vs. The 1951 and 1998 movies. Each version of this memorable play brings a different slant to a well-known and often performed classic. Williams' play is the ultimate standard, but each work illustrates just how a different slant can update a dated piece.


Tennessee William's "A Streetcar Named Desire" is such a pervasive play it was made into several film versions. The 1954 version starred Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, and Kim Hunter, and was directed by noted director Elia Kazan. The 1998 made for television movie was directed by Kirk Browning and was turned into a modern opera by the San Francisco Opera Company. Each piece retains the flavor of Williams' work, but brings a new slant to the performances.

The story of "A Streetcar Named Desire" is basically the same in all three works, but how they are presented is entirely different. Williams' play portrays the characters with straightforward precision and actions of the time when it was written, in 1947, when it was acceptable to call some one a Pollack, and deride them because of their ancestry. "I am not a Polack. People from Poland are Poles, not Polacks. But what I am is a one hundred percent American, born and raised in the greatest country on earth and proud as hell of it, so don't ever call me a Polack" (Williams Scene Eight). The 1951 film uses the same format, and much of the dialogue is the same, even though the endings are quite dissimilar. The 1998 opera retains most of the flavor of the play and film, but it uses music to indicate much of the dissention…

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In addition, Blanche was married before in all the versions, but in the 1951 film her husband's death is quickly glossed over, while in the harder hitting play, her husband committed suicide because he had been caught having a homosexual encounter. This is only hinted to in the film, and is lost in the 1998 opera version. This may not seem like an important detail, but for a woman to have lost a husband to suicide and homosexuality was a major stigma in 1947, and certainly would have affected Blanche and her self-image. Today, it does not seem like such an important or compelling issue, and so it does not take such an important role in the depiction of the characters.

When Blanche arrives at her sister's home, she notes how the play got its name. "They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at -- Elysian Fields!" (Williams, Scene 1). From the first, her relationship with Stanley is rocky, as all three pieces show: "Laurel.... Mind if I make myself comfortable?" (1998 Browning). As Stanley sings or speaks these innocuous words, he strips off his shirt, and the ultimate end to their relationship is already sealed. Stanley is the sexual predator, and Blanche is the victim, no matter her past.

Blanche cannot forgive her sister for leaving their family plantation and moving to the city. "I, I, I took the blows in my face and my body. All of those deaths. The long parade to the graveyard. Father, mother...You just came home in time for

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