Home » Ubu Reviews » Film Criticism: Samuel Beckett’s Play

Film Criticism: Samuel Beckett’s Play

Samuel Beckett’s “Play” is a one act play that centers on a love triangle.  The three main characters each narrate their account of the events that have taken place.  In the film version, the characters are incased in giant urns.  They are immobile and surrounded by other people in the exact situation.  The camera pans to each character as they are talking.  This replaces the spotlight that was in the original play and it serves to bring attention to the character who is speaking.

What stood out most was how fast the actors were reciting their lines.  There was a lot that the viewer might not be able to comprehend, but it gave a rhythm to the piece.  It was almost like a monotone song that these characters were singing.  A song of their despair and their torture at being kept in those urns for eternity.  They aren’t free to move about, not even to

lift a hand.  They are confined in those urns to reflect on their thoughts and their past.  As an artistic piece of work, it did its job.  The visuals brought the viewer into the world that these characters were living in.  The whole set was mysterious and disturbing as many other urns surrounded the three main characters.  Like all great works of art the film was very unusual.  It is not something someone sees often. 

As a film, I just didn’t get it.  Maybe it was the fast language, or the lack of expression on the actor’s faces that brought me out of the story.  I need to understand the story and connect with it to really “get it.”    The story was hard to connect with, not just the fast speech, but the story itself.  The piece seemed more like a piece of artwork than a film.

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