Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Death of a Salesman

On the weekend I watched Death of a Salesman, which came heavily recommended by a close friend. Starring Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich, this Arthur Miller play was brought to celluloid in 1985.

Dustin Hoffman plays Willy Loman, and won a Golden Globe for best actor in this performance. Willy is a man on the brink of a breakdown cum late-life-crisis, as his once promising career as a salesman has dwindled to nothing, his sons have amounted to nothing and he experiences increasingly severe manic-depressive episodes.

The film retains the feeling of a play, with simple sets and minimal sophistication, being mostly filmed as mid-shots, with little zooming or long shots. Towards the climax of the film we see more close-ups, which is surprising considering the intensity of the film. I was blown away by the acting in the film as so often in the cinema, you are brought into the world of the film; yet this was the first time whilst watching a film that I felt like I was actually at the theatre. The performances are powerful and empassioned, the cast is small and scenery bare (set mostly in the Loman house, and disorientatingly occasionally in other locations), which all contribute to a raw sense of emotion throughout the film.

I was quite exhausted by the end, although the film was quite an experience. It is not the sort of film that one might watch idly, it requires concentration and thought - plus time (it is 133 minutes long).

Anyone interested in mental health will like the film for its handling of nervous breakdowns, mania, depression and kleptomania. Others will relate to the family dynamics and reflection within the film.


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am writing a seminar paper on values reflected in death of a salesman and a pop culture text, "Gossip Girl". Doing popularity as a mainstream value, any ideas on how language techniques shape the value? help much appreciated!


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