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“Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller is a television adaptation of the revered stage drama that centers on Willy Loman (Dustin Hoffman), an elderly salesman in the midst of a crisis.
His financial difficulties greatly stress him and separate him from his two sons, Happy (Stephen Lang) and Biff (John Malkovich), as well as his wife, Linda (Kate Reid). He has lost his career due to advancing senility and is now subsisting on handouts from his comrade Charley (Charles Durning).
He becomes more unstable as he reminisces about his career and family in an attempt to figure out what went wrong in his life. He contemplates suicide following the shattering of his constant illusions of greatness and success for his. He eventually confronts some nasty truths regarding his sons, specifically Biff, a former athlete who is now a kleptomaniac as he thinks through his life as well as the futile promise of his sons (Miller).
The film has crucial cinematic elements such as music, lighting, and camera angle. The music rings louder as Willy gets closer to his normal self and rings low as he becomes moves away from his self. Miller has used this device to provide important clues of reality. Music expresses the characters’ emotions in the film play and the characters like Ben, Happy, Biff, Willy, and Linda have particular styles of music that show the viewers the emotions of the characters. The film starts with a sweet and soft flute medley, which announces the gradual trek of Willy to his home from Yonkers (Miller).
The set of the film is transparent; absence of walls enables the characters in Willy’s memories to walk into and out of the house freely regardless of their location. The set comprises of a “real” house though an incomplete one. The walls of the house do not connect thus enabling the viewers to see the characters who are inside the house and to see other buildings when the camera is positioned outside. One shot also shows that the roof and ceiling are completely missing in (Miller).
The director has set the film’s background against a backdrop and utilized the gaps to give the nod to its theater roots and help to tell his version of the story. He also uses costume, props, and color schemes to facilitate character development. The cameraman often positions the camera directly in front of Willy thus enabling the viewers to see Willy seated in front of the space in the boarded fence line (the area looking over the cemetery). The director uses this positioning to show a foreshadowing of the life of Willy. The color schemes of the film’s set are also significant to his life (Miller).
Willy is facing extreme psychological restlessness. Miller has picked on a thoughtful style of recording Willy’s mental state to reinforce the theme. His psychological equilibrium and equipoise have nearly shattered to the level of madness as mental peace is foreign to him and normal state of thinking is alien to him. Miller has used that style (that takes into consideration the Voltaire and unstable mood of the protagonist) to engage such a type of virtually a mad man.
The story is primarily told from his viewpoint and follows a structure of consciousness, with present and past mingling. That expands as he loses a grasp of the world he does not understand and cannot accept. This shifting of time is known as flashbacks in the film though the director makes a distinction between the objective outlook of the past in an ordinary flashback and the subjective memories, which occur in what is considered to be mobile occurrences. That allows Willy's visions of his past life to intrude on his contemporary life as his psychological state worsens (Miller).
The film has used a style of linguistic practicality as nearly every character, including the protagonist uses a local language. Miller has used a form of linguistic realism. The characters often use dialect and slang words. Furthermore, they are from the lower-class background thus it is not surprising that the characters converse with in their dialect (Miller).
The themes in the film play a crucial role in helping the viewers to define the term tragedy. An examination of the individual parts of the film is helpful to understand the term tragedy. The film also makes the audience sympathize with the family of Willy when they ultimately take cognizance of his problems of mulling over unattainable goals. The film also makes the audience not to feel any sympathy toward him due to his ignorance and failure. Everyone who attends his funeral looks for every reason to blame deceased. They talk about the external forces that easily influenced him to commit suicide. Willy is the only character who is hell-bent on being prosperous and has firm conviction that this impression of the American Dream is realizable (Miller).
Death of a Salesman. Dir. Arthur Miller. Perf. John Malkovich. 1985. Film.
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