Death of a Salesman Film/Drama Comparison

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Arthur Miller has been considered a leading American playwright for ages. His ability to create dramatic plots involving political and moral issues made him famous for plays like Death as a Salesman. But can such greatness achieved through plays also be achieved through film? It is a rarity when a movie based on a book or play follows closely to the plot intended, and it's even more of a rarity when the tone, mood, and characters of that book or play are channeled precisely as the author intended. The movie version of Death as a Salesman closely correlates with the play, but along with every other play-turned-movie, differences are apparent.

Many of the actors chosen for roles in the movie seem to fit Miller's portrayal of the characters. However, in the play, Willy Loman is portrayed as a man of considerable size even being called "walrus" at one time, while in the film he is much smaller and is called "shrimp". Although Dustin Hoffman depicts the character of Willy Loman well, he gets so enthralled in the heat of the scene that it sometimes makes the audience wonder if Miller intended for Willy to be so dramatic and emotional. At times it's overwhelming and even difficult to understand what Hoffman is saying. A problem with converting plays or books to motion picture is one can't see pictures that go along with text (as in a book). The mind must create its own pictures of what is being described. The portrayal of Linda Loman on screen was completely different than what I had imagined her to be as while I was reading.

As far as plot goes, the storyline was almost exactly the same in the movie and the play. Some scenes were interchanged, but not so much as to disrupt the development or structure of the story. It also looks as though the director of the film purposely made it appear like the movie was taking place on a stage—probably to stay true to the fact that above all, Death of a Salesman is a play.

In the play, the scenes are often accompanied by a...
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