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Croatian film

Contemporary theory in translation

A Streetcar Named Desire – Adapting the Play to Film

The article states the requisite characteristics a play needs for its successful adaptation into a film. A case study of the William’s drama and Kazan’s film A Streetcar Named Desire.

The basic characteristic is that a play’s story must take place in a realistic context and have the potential to be »opened up.« Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is the kind of play that can be successfully translated into film and in 1951, under the direction of Elia Kazan, it was. The article presents a strong case to support the argument that the story of A Streetcar Named Desire is more effectively rendered as a film than as a play. In an interview, Kazan, agreeing with author Williams, stated, »the film version managed to surpass the effect of the play with the exception of the ending.« Forced to alter the original ending of the play to satisfy the industry censor, Kazan felt the story had been compromised.

However, the article argues that the altered ending of the film version is more dramatically satisfying than the play’s ending, especially for a contemporary audience. In the play’s ending, Stella, after being brutalized by her coarse working-class husband, Stanley, docilely submits to him and his sexual advances. In the film’s ending, Stella makes a stand against Stanley, rejecting his advances, leaving him whining submissively for her. The article also mentions the twelve minor cuts made to satisfy the Catholic censor, and how these cuts have been restored to the film which can now be seen in its uncensored form.

Robert Benedetto

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