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Marlon Brando: A Method Actor Essay

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Updated: Jan 30th, 2019

Marlon Brando is seen as one of the greatest actors who employed method acting. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) is one of the films where the actor’s performance can be regarded as an example of the effective use of the method acting techniques. This is an emotional story of a man who tries to build his happiness despite his ill temper. Such techniques as emotional memory, substitution and magic “if” help the actor create such a lively and appealing character.

Thus, examples of the use of emotional memory are quite numerous in the film. For instance, the scene where Stanley reveals his dreams to have a son is one of these examples (A Streetcar Named Desire). Notably, it is manageable to act out emotions of a man who is happy to have a son.

The scene where Stanley is playing cards with other men is also suggestive. Stanley gets more and more furious as he does not win (A Streetcar Named Desire). This emotion is also rather easy to act out as each person has witnessed such kind of emotions.

Admittedly, such techniques as substation and magic “if” are a bit more complicated to act out and trace. Nonetheless, these techniques are also employed by Brando in the film. For instance, the scene where Stanley clears the table is one of examples of substitution. It is clear that the situation when someone is telling a man what to do is unpleasant for the male.

It is also apparent that each man has had loads of such situations (especially in their childhood). Brando refers to all those cases when he was told what to do something to accumulate the fury necessary for the scene. The actor is very emotional when explaining who the king in their kingdom is. The actor’s emotions make the scene very lively and realistic.

As far as the magic “if” is concerned, it can be found in the scene where Stanley confronts Blanche and tells her everything he thinks about her (A Streetcar Named Desire). Brando manages to imagine he is the brutal man who is fed up with the woman’s behavior and lies. He acts out the joy of a man who understands his own flaws, but is eager to reveal the flaws in other people.

The magic “if” can also be traced in the one of the most famous scenes of the film. Stanley calls his wife Stella (A Streetcar Named Desire). He is desperate and he needs his wife badly. Here, the actor puts himself into his character’s shoes. He explores the feelings of a man who can lose the one he truly loves and cares about (in his peculiar way). Stanley is devastated he does not want to listen to anyone else. Only his wife can comfort him and she does come back.

It is necessary to note that this scene is also suggestive as it helps understand the inner conflict in Stanley. On the one hand, he is a brutish man who is accustomed to a working life. He is accustomed to being in charge of his family and he is the boss. He uses his physical strength to dominate in his house. His wife is submissive.

Even though she is trying to protest sometimes, Stanley strives for total control over his wife as well as her sister. Thus, the scene where Stanley is telling the women he is the king is one of the illustrations of this facet of his complicated character (A Streetcar Named Desire). He is often violent and brutish.

On the other, it is clear that he is attached to his wife and he loves her immensely. His despair in the scene with Stanley shouting out Stella’s name is obvious. He understands that he offends his wife too often. However, he can do nothing about his own behavior.

Therefore, his inner struggle is related to his nature and his love to his wife. He wants to be a better person for his Stella, but he is unlikely to become one as his temper will never change. Their marriage is also a reflection of Stanley’s inner struggle. They fight all the time, but they always end up in bed and everything starts over again.

It is necessary to note that the film is one of the cinematographic masterpieces. From an actor’s perspective, the film is a manual to learn by heart. Marlon Brando shows the ways actors should live the lives of their characters and become their characters. Method acting techniques are very effective and the film is the best evidence to support the assumption.

As an actor, I have learnt a lot from Brando and his character Stanley. Being emotional and being another person is rather hard. However, in the film, it is impossible to find an actor Brando as he is totally transformed into Stanley. One of the secrets of such successful acting is that Marlon Brando managed to believe he was Stanley. Therefore, he managed to convince the viewers he was Stanley as well.

On balance, it is possible to note that Marlon Brando is one of the greatest method actors. One of the films where Brando’s brilliant performance is manifested is A Streetcar Named Desire. This film is regarded as one of the most remarkable films and should be a kind of training material for actors who strive for achieving highest results in their career. The film will teach actors how to create a strong, lively and appealing character that will definitely remain in the history of world cinematography.

Works Cited

A Streetcar Named Desire. Ex. Prod. Charles K. Feldman. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers. 1951. DVD.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Marlon Brando: A Method Actor." January 30, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/marlon-brando-a-method-actor/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Marlon Brando: A Method Actor'. 30 January.

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