I really should see more classics. I have watched most of the films that have come out in cinemas since probably 2005, but I don’t get around to watching classic movies that often. And I enjoy them. As a filmmaker, I learn a lot from classic films and find it extremely interesting to watch and analyze them since those productions were the founders for the films I watch today.
So, I watched ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ the other day. I had seen it before, but quite a while ago, when I was little, and it hadn’t left a mark on me. My initial thoughts on the film? It’s a very compelling production and it caught me by surprise because it certainly does not look like and 1951 movie. However, I did find a few things about it that I didn’t like. Without further a due, here’s my review of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’.
To begin with, I loved the philosophical ideas the movie posed. I think I got a lot out of them and the production touched on certain topics that I hadn’t been thinking about before and thus it expanded my thinking. The general plot of the film is interesting and thought-provoking. Since the script was adapted from a play, I think they did a pretty fantastic job telling a coherent story that made sense. I did find the story-telling a bit choppy and random at times though. Also, the narrative of the movie was a bit weird, but I didn’t find that necessarily bad, since it kinda set the tone for the story great. Generally, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ was very interesting to watch, it was dramatic, with a flare of humor and action, and with the exception to how choppy was the story-telling, the plot was developed pretty great.
The first thing I wanna say about characters is that they were very interesting to watch. I loved watching them progress, I loved hearing about their life, and I loved gathering the pieces of their backstories. However, many questions were left unanswered. Some on purpose, of course, but I feel like others were just forgotten and thus the characters felt a bit… unfinished.
I disliked one character a lot: Blanche. You know, I read the play after watching the movie and got a totally different understanding on what that character should be. I know Vivien Leigh got a lot of praise for her portrayal of Blanche, but I, personally, hated it. I think she made the character a lot more dislikable than it should have been and I think her portrayal of Blanche (who is, after all, the main character) was not in the tone of the story and did not fit in the character’s actions.
Even though above I said that the directing was a bit choppy and random (and I stand by that), it’s still absolutely fantastic for 1951. Why? Well, because this film simply does not feel like something made almost 70 years ago, but really feels like something made… well, today. It’s very different from a modern day film, obviously, but I didn’t get a sensation that I was watching an old movie while watching ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Everything works great together in this production: the sets are fantastic, the music sets the tone perfectly, the cinematography is pretty good, and the editing is alright. On a technical and on a directorial level, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ really was a revelation for 1951.
Marlon Brando is fantastic in this production. So is Kim Hunter and Karl Malden. Vivien Leigh is absolutely terrific… if we don’t think about what her character should be… She did an amazing job portraying a character, portraying someone who wasn’t Blanche. That she did absolutely marvelously. However, the fact remains that she read the character completely wrong, at least that’s what I think. She made Blanche a dislikable attention seeker pathetic woman and I think that if everyone read the play, they’ll see that that is very exaggerated.
I know I said quite a few negative things about ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, but that’s because I’m viewing it from a current film criticism lens. Film criticism has developed a lot, the quality of movie has grown a lot, and I simply can’t imagine what I would have thought if I had seen this movie in 1951. It’s not perfect, but for back then, it was the best people got. I’m able to view its imperfection because cinema has grown so much as an art form. If I had seen this film in 1951, I probably would have loved it because even though there are better films today, for back then, this was a revelation. And because of that, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ will remain an endless classic.
- Plot: 3/4
- Characters: 2.5/3.5
- Directing: 3/3.5
- Technical parts: 2.25/3
- Acting: 2.5/4
- Does it know what it is?: 1/1
- Did I overall like it?: 1/1
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Thanks for reading,