STANLEY. Hey, there! Stella, Baby!
[Stella comes out on the first floor landing, a gentle young woman about twenty-five, and of a background obviously quite different from her husband’s.] (13) This is the opening line from A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennesee Williams, one of many differences in the first scene of the play compared to the film directed by Elia Kazan. The film was based off of the original play by Williams, which Kazan directed as well. This fact is most likely why the majority of the overall film shares similarities with the play. In fact, all of the leading and supporting roles are all played by the original actors and actresses, excluding Blanche. The only reason for this was be due to the overpowering acting of Marlon Brando as Stanley. So to accommodate for that Kazan casted Vivien Leigh, who was rising as one of the best female film actress of the time. Along with a minor casting change, Kazan made many other changes while keeping the overall theme of the play. So while the film is a faithful adaptation of the play, an analysis of the first scene illustrates several departures between the two, and furthermore foreshadows the events of the rest of the story. Right from the start, we find the first difference. The film starts with Blanche getting off the train asking for directions to Elysian Fields, while the play opens with Stanley and Stella in Elysian Fields. The opening scene, whether it’s a book, a play, or a film, is one of the most important, if not the most important scene in any story. It is the introduction to what is going to happen, and we see that Kazan wanted to introduce Williams’s story in a different way. Kazan, by introducing Blanche first, saw how important it was to show that she was the focus of the story. While Williams, possibly due to writing this before any acting of it was done, saw the importance of introducing the setting of which Blanche was coming into. Again, Brando’s performance influenced...
Cited: Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. 1947. New York: Signet, 1986.
Kazan, Elia, dir. A Streetcar Named Desire. Screenplay by Tenesee Williams. Perf. Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden. Warner Brothers, 1951
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