“A different sense of reality”. Le trasposizioni cinematografiche delle opere di Tennessee Williams

In this article, the author focuses on the movies based on the works of famous American playwright Tennessee Williams made during the so-called Hollywood Golden Age. The article is divided mainly in two sections: in the first one, the author gives a general overview of the Williams movies, underlining the importance of the playwright to the 1950s and 60s movie world but also the importance of cinema in Williams’ career, while analyzing the Williams movies and their positive aspects and flaws both as adapted and as individual works. The second part focuses on two of the 14 movies considered, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Sweet Bird of Youth, both directed by Richard Brooks, but quite different in their quality and their faithfulness to the Williams plays they are based on. Cat is a cinematic masterpiece which respects the original from which it is adapted but when moving away from it, it does so in an intelligent and creative way, respectful of the author’s work. In this way, it remains a faithful but not slavish adaptation of the original, succeeding in bringing the author’s vision to the screen while keeping a cinematic quality that much filmed theatre can’t seem to achieve. Sweet Bird, on the other hand, is an only-partially enjoyable movie handicapped by a screenplay which completely misinterpret the play on which it is based, exchanging its profound pessimism for an almost total subjection to the rules of commercial cinema of its day, in the process exemplifying to perfection the dangers of opting for a total distortion of the spirit and meaning of a work, even if not quite the basic narrative material, while adapting it
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