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.