Uncle Vanya Film Study

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Film Study of Uncle Vanya starring Sir Lawrence Olivier Subtext is content that can be found underneath the dialogue of the story. It was what characters truly think and believe, their unspoken motives. Rather than having thoughts strictly stated aloud, authors refer to these thoughts by way of implications and metaphors. One such implication can be found in a particular scene of Uncle Vanya. In the 1962 stage adaptation of the play by Anton Chekov it is much easier to identify underlying content than searching for it in the book. Rather than reading the encounter in Act II between Yelena and Sonia, viewing the portrayal of the characters by the actors onscreen allows for subtext to actually be seen. In this particular scene of Act II we see the inner turmoil of both characters, especially Yelena and Sonia. Yelena is a beautiful woman and Chekov makes the fact very clear. It is easy for one to say she is of shallow character and does little to contribute except for charming all of the characters. Viewing Yelena in this fashion does her character an injustice. Yelena is not unlike the many other characters who fell as though they have spent their lives wastefully. She too experiences the feeling of estrangement. Sonia inquires of Yelena whether she would have preferred a younger husband to Serebrakov and Yelena confirms that she would have been satisfied. This does not explain why exactly she married the professor. In fact, Chekov never officially gives strict reasons for Yelena’s choices, instead relying on hints and indirect action. Like Yelena, Sonia is a woman. Unlike Yelena, she is not a beautiful one. The point is brought up several times throughout the play; evidence of a people’s superficial opinion. The first thing everyone notices are looks. As seen with Yelena, Russian women at this time are highly encouraged to marry but Sonia’s problem is that she is just too “plain.” Sonia may be strong, smart and have a good work ethic but in the crazy society

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