Focus On American Intellectual Film-Classics. Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) As An Unintended American Dystopia – From Streetcar As A Metaphor of Blanche’s Sublime Desire to Streetcar-Stanley
Forerunners of Innocent Thugs In Politics, Business, Finance, War-making, Media and Religious Preaching In US of 21st Century
“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams (1951) is a courageously truthful representation of human emotions and psychology of (sexual) love, as well as the reality of psychological rivalry and fight for getting more prestigious public image than the opponent has. But the film is much more than this. It is a merciless depiction of deeply rooted American archetypes of the “innocent lout”, the “machoistic sentimentality”, and the “misperception of dissimilarity as animosity” (leading to a belligerent posture towards the inclusive democratic concept of human community). These three cultural archetypes (personified by the main character Stanley Kowalski) are reservoirs of antagonistic energy inside a democratic society that targets humanistic education (liberal arts), serious culture and the educated people in general.
Stanley, an immigrant and a worker, is overfilled by social inferiority complex and unconsciously tries to justify his lack of education and hate for politeness and psychological refinement with the pride of belonging to the demos of the democracy. He feels that he represents the real democratic future and scapegoats Blanche, his wife’s sister and a school-teacher, as a woman with a morally ambiguous personal reputation. By doing this he pampers his self-esteem and his image in the eyes of those around as more American than Americans with cultural interests (“liberal elite”).
Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan were able to point out the most disturbing American psycho-cultural trends – contempt for cultural education, intolerance for otherness and dissimilarity, disgust for pluralism of opinions and life styles, and proclivity to treat disagreements with targeting the other side as enemy.
Only recently, in 21st century, we can understand how tragically prophetic “A Streetcar… Desire” is for our country – today Stanley’s Kowalskies are ruling US as conservative politicians, right wing talk show hosts (paid by the inexhaustible corporate profits) and Wall Street schemers. All these people went out of Marlon Brando’s Streetcar-Stanley. We need to return to this amazing film to understand better what’s happening with our country and what exactly psychological powers try to intervene in our future.
I still need to watch the majority here, but I love the three that I have seen, including your number 1.
Personally I'd rank Splendor in the Grass higher, otherwise a fine list and a most wonderful director! Glad to see America, America in Tier One. one of the very few films that actually brought me to tears. Deserves more love.
I'm glad you like Kazan, Terrorize! :)