Question: How effectively does the writer/director use the first scene to introduce the main characters and ideas of the play ? In this piece of coursework i will assess how effectively the director understands the play and how she translates this knowledge when making the film starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh and I will be weighing up the similarities/differences between the first scene of the film and the first scene of the play. The director of the film A Streetcar Named Desire represents the first stage direction of the play very well.
The description given in the first stage direction is very similar to the first shots that we get of the film which is of Elysian Fields and it runs between the L&N tracks of the river. In this shot we see the grey, old, rickety and weathered building which were once painted white. This is what gives the impression that this area of New Orleans is quite poor along with the first shot of Blanche which is of her emerging from a streetcar through a cloud of smoke being pushed and shoved by indecent men.
As soon as Blanche emerges from the streetcar i can immediately can see that she does not fit in because the way she looks is very clean, sleek and posh and compared to where she is in the hustling and bustling city of New Orleans which is full of filth, heavily polluted and a rough place to be. The fact that Blanche does not fit in straight away tells me about her personality and that she has an interesting past which is revealed later in the film. The first stage direction has some minor differences as to what is shown in the film and that is there is no mention of the smell of coffee and bananas.
The first visual impressions of the characters are as you would expect from a play of this calibre which has so many different storylines in it. The first visual impression that we get of each of the characters in the film tells us a lot about the personalities of each of the characters and this is the case for most films produced. Here are some the first visual impressions of the three main characters from the film: Blanche: The first visual impression that i get from Blanche is that she immediately does not fit in because her clothes are to smart and posh for this area of New Orleans.
The next thing I noticed is that Blanche has a very quiet, clear, posh voice which tells me that she enjoys being posh. The only problems with Blanche is that she is an alcoholic and her mind is very unstable because she keeps re-living her husbands suicide as we see at the end of Act1, Scene1. Stella: Stella is married to Stanley and she is the younger sister of Blanche. Stella often seems immature compared to Blanche because Blanche bosses her around a lot during the film and Stella asks Blanche for advice quite often.
Blanche acts more like a mother to Stella than a Sister because Blanche appears so much more sophisticated than Stella during the film. Stella gets beaten up by Stanley quite a lot but Stella always seems to go back to Stanley like a boomerang. Stanley: Stanley is a bowling fanatic and the first visual impression we get of him is of him bowling with his mates down at the bowling alley. The first real Impression we get of Stanley is when him and Blanche are talking in Stanley and Stella’s apartment. During Act1,Scene1 Stanley comes home in dirty, sweaty clothes and the first thing he does is have an alcoholic drink.
Stanley is a well built man who gets into a lot of fights, this is a sign that he is quite a rough man. Stanley is a woman beater and he rapes Blanche later on during the film. When we first see Stanley in Act1, Scene1 i could definitely tell that something was going to happen between Blanche and Stanley because when Stanley first appears with Blanche they start flirting with each other and when they had got associated, Stanley loses his very short temper and drags up the past which is about Belle Reve and her husbands death. The first conversation between Blanche and Stella is about her past, in particular Belle Reve (the family home).
Blanche sells Belle Reve to pay off the funeral expenses for her late husband of whom, committed suicide. The first conversation between Blanche and Stella takes place at the bowling alley where the lights are dim and the background noise is quite minimal with only a few people talking. Although the lighting is quite dim in the bowling alley, Blanche pushes the light away so that she blends into the background as much as possible because something is bothering her, she doesn’t want people to look at her and she doesn’t think that she is attractive.
The camera shots at this point in the film is of both characters; Blanche and Stella. This is so that we can see how each character reacts in the form of facial expressions and body language to what the other character says. In Stanley’s meeting with Blanche in Act1, Scene1 Stanley walks in strutting in his sweaty, dirty, skin-tight costume and some romantic jazz music comes on which tells the audience that there is some sexual attraction between the two characters.
The lighting at this point during the film is quite tranquil and each character speaks to one another in soft clear voices, each character tries to make their voice sound as sexy as possible to the other character. At the end of that scene the sexual attraction is lost when Blanche brings up the subject of her dead husband and Stanley wants to know more about how he died. This puts a dampener on the attraction that there was before between the two characters and a tension now begins to build. The scene ends with Blanche re-living her husbands suicide.
At this point polka music comes on and Blanche’s actions are the main focus of the camera. The finale of the scene is caused by sound effects which are of a gun going off and by the polka music slowly being faded out. In conclusion the first seen is brilliant for portraying the characters and for portraying the main storylines in the play. In this first scene we see most aspects of the main Character’s personalities. In the rest of the film all that happens is that the storylines seen in the first scene develop in more depth.
In my view the first scene really sets the scene for the whole film because it gives you a hint in the first scene about nearly everything that happens in the play. The director done a good job in understanding what was happening in the play and she done a good job when translating the play to a film and most of the important aspects staying the same and by using music and camera shots to get that added affect that makes the film so affective and understanding in the point of view of the audience.