Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Publication Title

Literature/Film Quarterly

Volume

43

Issue

3

Pages

188-201

Publisher Name

Salisbury University

Publisher Location

Salisbury, MD

Abstract

The film's reviewers almost invariably commented on the parallels with Streetcar, many noting, too, that Cate Blanchett, who plays the title character, Jasmine, had also successfully played Blanche Dubois in Liv Ullmann's 2009 production of the play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.2 But for all the similarities in character types and plot structure and for all the allusions to specific lines in Streetcar, the themes of Blue Jasmine are very different from those of Williams's play because the story that Allen tells also channels the fall of Bernie Madoff and his wife, Ruth. The flashbacks are a filmic equivalent for Williams's gradual exposition of Blanche's story recounted by Stanley, Stella, and Blanche herself! Since many of the flashbacks represent what Jasmine is remembering when she detaches herself from the present (talking to herself, staring into space), they also correspond to Williams's expressionist use of visual and aural effects-the glaring light of the passing train, the music of the Varsouviana-to convey Blanche's consciousness, her memory of the night her young husband shot himself.

Most of Woody Allen's allusions to Tennessee Williams in his films and writings have been to A Streetcar Named Desire.1 So it is not surprising that Streetcar (1947) is written all over Allen's recent film, Blue Jasmine (2013). Allen goes beyond adopting and adapting plot lines and characters from Williams's play. He has so deeply assimilated the earlier work that motifs and lines of dialogue, often transferred to different characters or situations, become the imaginative counters with which he constructs his own screenplay. The film's reviewers almost invariably commented on the parallels with Streetcar, many noting, too, that Cate Blanchett, who plays the title character, Jasmine, had also successfully played Blanche Dubois in Liv Ullmann's 2009 production of the play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.2 But for all the similarities in character types and plot structure and for all the allusions to specific lines in Streetcar, the themes of Blue Jasmine are very different from those of Williams's play because the story that Allen tells also channels the fall of Bernie Madoff and his wife, Ruth. In this essay I will review the similarities between Blue Jasmine and A Streetcar Named Desire, explore the implications of the allusions and the changes Allen makes, and suggest how the post-World War II play works in the postMadoff film.

Comments

Author Posting. © Literature/Film Quarterly, 2015. Reprinted with permission of Literature/Film Quarterly @ Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801. The article was published in Literature and Film Quarterly, Volume 43, Issue 3, 2015.

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