Aging travelling salesman Arthur Miller (Dustin Hoffman) tries to fix the emptiness of his life.
Release Date: 16 August 1985 (USA)
Director: Volker Schlöndorff
Writer: Arthur Miller (teleplay), Arthur Miller (play)
Cast: Stephen Lang,Charles Durning,Dustin Hoffman,Kate Reid,John Malkovich
Awards: Golden Globes,Emmy Awards,Sant Jordi Awards,Television Critics Association Awards
Death of a Salesman has managed to attain the role of being the Great American Tragedy. There have been numerous plays written and had become undeniably successful, but Arthur Miller had outdone himself with his creation of the character Willy Loman. In the 1985 Broadway film revival, Dustin Hoffman received the role of Willy Loman. The original cast was retained for the television broadcast which delighted the avid fans of the original play. Although unconventional, the director chosen for the movie was Volker Schlondorff; a man who has spent his entire career in France and Germany.
You may find yourself crying or at least stuck in a melancholic mood after you watch the movie. It has established a sort of challenge for the viewer to take a look at his own life and reflect upon the value of it all. Willy has been a struggling salesman almost all of his life. He has been living under this belief or sometimes a presumption that he and his family are set to be a success. At times, he even believes that they are destined for greatness. Willy’s wife Linda is played by Kate Reid. She is aware of the reality of their situation but chooses to humor her husband’s delusions of grandeur because she has nothing to lose, just like Willy has nothing to lose as well.
Now, Willy’s dreams are possibly going to be shattered. He has now been fired from his job and has to live on the handouts that his old friend Charley is giving him. Charley is played by Charles Durning. John Malkovich plays Willy’s son Biff who does not have a job and is a kleptomaniac. His son Happy, who is played by Stephen Lang, is known to be a cynical womanizer. Willy, now a broken man, is toying with the idea of suicide. The story continues to unfold as the truth comes out. The truth about Biff’s failures in life is discovered to be something that Willy unintentionally caused.
The play shows the audience that Willy and Charley are both quite different in their ways of parenting. Willy is the kind of father that would do anything for his sons. He showers them with attention even if it isn’t reciprocated the Way Willy hopes. Charley, on the other hand, hardly even gives any kind of interest in his nerdy son Bernard, who later becomes a very important lawyer. Bernard is played by David S. Chandler.
You will not enjoy Death of a Salesman. It is not the kind of film you would take your family to see, nor is it the kind that counts as a date kind of movie. This may have been the mother of all spoilers because the title itself is a dead give-away. Before you have even watched the movie, you already know that it’s going to be depressing.
Death of a Salesman made Golden Globes history in the television movie category and with its Best Actor, Dustin Hoffman and supporting role nominations for John Malkovich and Kate Reid. This film was nominated for best Picture as well and Hoffman and Malkovich won a few Emmy awards too.