So what was the movie about anyway (not anywayS, as many less reading Indians say, but not due to a typo)?
Well, the first thing one can mention is something that connects the Streetcar with Gone With The Wind (GWTW), apart from Vivien Leigh. Namely, the going away of an old world and the beginning of a new world. But the old world was not so good and the new one is hardly better. Of course, the similarity is limited. There is not much nostalgia in the Streetcar. And all the characters are more imperfect.
An educated sophisticated lady comes from a dying feudal world which she tried very hard to cling to and which has all but destroyed her. She comes, out of compulsion, to a (not the) new industrial world. But people in this new world are more ‘primitive’. They almost live like animals. This is explicitly stated in the movie by the newcomer lady, but is repeatedly shown by the director implicitly. Eating heartily, fighting fiercely and making up, having sex, thinking only about their survival, but (unlike the very poor on-her-own teenager of Rosetta) as if they had no memory. Animals are said to have no memory. The newness of the new world is reflected only in the glimpses of some modern objects: light bulb, machines, and the streetcar etc. Even the law the Yelling Hero talks about is straight from from Napoleon. To sum up this theme (as this is just a blog post, not a proper review), the new world is not so new. And not much better either.
The other theme (as I saw, not necessarily as the director intended) is about two victims torturing one another and the one who is hardier and less sensitive (and ignorant and stupid) surviving, while the other one ‘cracks’ down under the long long assault which was not started by the first victim. I am not sure whether the two are equally victims, as the Yelling Hero obviously suffers less than the Lady of Sweet Sophistication and Bitter Decadence.
I should confess here that I felt more for the latter. I hardly felt much for the former, until I thought consciously about what had created him and kept him where he was: an animal living in a world of rectangular man-made caves in a primitive society in a supposedly modern world where aeroplanes fly and where actors are learning The Method and where there are mass producing factories.
Which world is the director partial to? I don’t know. I am less interested in what the director intended and more in what the film says to me. Which world am I partial to? None. I want a much better world than both, but that is di…
There is a third victim (among the major characters) in the story who neither thrives nor cracks down. He is just trapped. He and the Yelling Hero’s wife (who is a nice nice conformist) are the two more likeable characters, but unlike the Hero’s wife, he is not very happy in his world and is seeking something better without hurting anyone. In reviews of the movie, he (naturally) comes out as a silly comic character.
Yet another theme of the movie is ‘a touching study of schizophrenia’. This is the only important theme that I found mentioned in the reviews that I read on the Net. You see a reasonably good human being going mad right before your eyes. And the reason she becomes a ‘schizophrenic’ (I don’t like these pseudo-scientific terms) is that she can’t survive the long continuous assault by the world of ‘sane’ people around her. If this theme doesn’t ‘touch’ you, I don’t think you should be reading this blog.
There are many other ‘smaller’ themes in the movie, but I am not writing a review…