19 June 2007 | rcshepherd
This Screen Adaptation Is True to Arthur Miller
A standard 1940's group of ensemble players, coupled with strength of an Arthur Miller project. All of the cast principles and minor players as well were at the top of their forms when they stood before the cameras. None were noted as powerful stage actors in their own right. Yet when they appeared in this film, they succeeded in doing what I think a film of a major stage work should do. Carry the viewer into the stage (not film) theater, and give him/her the unique experience of a Broadway or Off-Broadway theater seat.
The production style and direction, (for reasons of cost and utility) let the words of Miller's play take center stage. The Art and Set direction, in beautiful black-and-white, are spare, firm, and commanding. They command our attention. Miller is big on attention to the issues his characters are grappling with and their impact on the great issues of our (and all) time.
As Miller repeats in Death of a Salesman, there are layers upon layers of meaning and understanding between his characters and the issues they confront both internally and externally. The two business partners have had a long, intimate, family relationship (like Cain and Able). So close a relationship, that his son could have married his partner's daughter. And she of course, is the only one who has always known (from that son) the truth about the death of the son. And the truth(s) about the father.
Miller shows us that the father's Horatio Alger lies are so much at the foundation of who we are individually and collectively as Americans; the they can almost completely wash out what individuals and a community should think about its leading citizens. It is an interesting plot twist that as Miller's script points out, it is the low class birth and poverty of the father embeds him into the fabric of the community.
That the film faithfully carried Miller's message of contempt and loathing not only for the worship of that false god(capitalism), but also for the whole Horatio Alger hero myth (that both American liberals and conservatives embrace) is quite daring. Even for a film world that had not yet descended into the long night of the "Black-List".