A Streetcar named Desire (1951)
A minute after A Streetcar named Desire ended, I thought that it was an amazing movie with one of the best ensemble casts ever. A tour-de-force. But its strength and freshness also resides in the excellent work by Mr. Elia Kazan and cinematographer Harry Stradling. They move the camera around those disturbed characters, with their lonely lives and their hidden secrets and motifs, in a very seductive way, making them look mysterious, between the lights and the shadows, and emotional, with the multiple close-ups and sometimes poetical and metaphorical images.
Intense, defiant, extraordinary piece of human examination, A Streetcar named Desire lives in an atmosphere that is untamed since the beginning, when Blanche arrives to that dirty, noisy, smokey New Orleans. The sense of nervous breakdown is vivid all the time due to the extreme uses that Kazan makes of the image: Witnessing or Judging. When presenting characters, it's outstanding, but the best shots of the movie are precisely those who don't involve first impressions, but definitional moments in the dramatic arcs of the characters.
Bronze was the final scene involving Blanche and the Doctor. Silver was Mitch's meeting Blanche in the middle of the poker game. And gold has to be the showstopping moment, when Stella decides to go down the stairs and forgive Stanley. It's a fearful scene because we've seen so much violence, verbal and physical, that audience should gasp looking at it. Finally, we realize that it's a life of subservience and drudgery, a deep and true reflection on that time women roles. But, most important, the movie is a struggle between appearances and reality. The fantasy, embodied by Blanche, confronts the reality, we mean Stanley, and the result is tragic as it could only be. Put special attention to the cinematography when Blanche moves around the Kowalski house, trying to hide her real age. She hides herself in the shadows. And, sadly, she stays there.