Tennessee Williams' South
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The brutes and the belles. The gadflies and the good ol' boys. The taboos and the profound truths. They're all part of a tennessee state of mind -- a realm of places, personalities and ideas. Williams is front and center for this exploration, reading from his works, placing them in the context of his life, and serving as guide in visits to his career-shaping refuge in New Orleans and his later-day writing quarters in Key West. Also, dramatizations by distinguished actors -- including Jessica Tandy, Broadway's original Blanche DuBois, in a recreation of her A Streetcar Named Desire triumph -- give flesh-and-bone immediacy to some of the writer's famed works. In his own words. In his own places. The resilient character and memorable characters of one of our greatest writers reside in Tennessee Williams' South.
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Tennessee comes across as a genial and perhaps unintentionally charming person. He laughs often. It's a pleasure to listen to his Southern accent. He's careful and thoughtful before answering the interviewer's questions. Most moving for me were his frequent readings from his poetry and plays. By the time the film was ending, I'd concluded that most of his works and his thought processes were Poetry.
Williams is an excellent reader of his works. His poems are more exquisite than I've ever guessed, having seen only a few movies based on some of his more outstanding plays.
It was interesting to hear Williams speak of the origins of Southern idioms. Also to learn of his penchant for Chekhov and how he felt that Chekhov's own particular Russian "world" was very comparable to the world of Williams' world of the American South. I found that a most unexpected comparison.
In a phrase from one of his poems, Williams speaks of himself as telling "Truth disguised as illusion."
When asked why he thinks so many people identify with his characters and thus with him, he expresses surprise. He says he can't imagine that many people do identify with his eccentric characters and with a character so eccentric as himself. The interviewer says that many people may see themselves as inwardly, though not apparently, eccentric. Williams then experiences an illumination. He laughs and says that he feels relieved to know that it is alright for him to be eccentric and he says he'll go on being so with greater ease now!
There was a lovely guilelessness about Tennessee Williams. He had a sense of humor, and he enjoyed laughing at his own humor!
I felt that the characters in the plays and Williams himself were almost all persons who expressed themselves, generally speaking, in a startling, "naked" way. Or, perhaps, another popular adjective from our contemporary usage would be "transparent." So, the frankness and honesty of Williams and the characters who, by his own admission, represent his own inner selves, are salient features of the illusionistic but non-illusory Truth Williams brings to life on the stage.
This film is an excellent study of Tennessee Williams as a person and an artist (who happens to reflect the phenomenon of Southern culture at a particular point in its transition). As an opportunity to listen to Williams read from his works, the film is a moving experience. There is the added advantage of being able to view scenes featuring some of the 20th century's most outstanding actors. I place a high value on this study of Williams and his work.
It's really wonderful to see and hear Tennessee talk about his work. He seems friendly, lucid, and amusing. I am a huge fan of Tennessee's work and have wanted this DVD for years and finally bought it. This DVD is also in the Warner Bros. collection of film adaptations of Tennessee's plays, that set is often on sale so you might want to get the "full" collection and not just this documentary. This DVD is a must for fans of the American theater.
Most recent customer reviews
Yadah, Yadah, Yadah to fulfill the stupid word count restrictions