In the film version of "A Soldier's Story," what are some areas in the film that succeed over the play?

The film version of A Soldier's Play succeeds in possessing more realism than the stage original, which is a natural consequence of the theater to cinema transition.

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While it is questionable to consider the changes made to A Soldier's Play in its transition from stage to screen as improvements, the alterations reflect the different needs of cinema and theater as artistic mediums. The film version would suffer were it to try to present the original play exactly...

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While it is questionable to consider the changes made to A Soldier's Play in its transition from stage to screen as improvements, the alterations reflect the different needs of cinema and theater as artistic mediums. The film version would suffer were it to try to present the original play exactly as it was performed on stage.

Firstly, the film is more "realistic" than the play. Theater can be abstract and less real, hence the use of only one set in the original. The film showcases more locations: a military chapel, Big Mary's bar, the woods nearby, individual offices, and the baseball field where the soldiers play games. This allows the viewer to be more immersed in the time and place of the story. Flashback scenes appear alongside the present-day action in the play, while they are presented separately in the film.

Also because the film is more realistic, it can show more characters beyond just the few soldiers involved in the murder mystery. The filmmakers feature more scenes that visually establish the conflict between the black soldiers and the white Louisiana townspeople who are unhappy due to their presence. The scene showing the baseball game also highlights this conflict by cutting between the black and white spectators.

Also of note is the increased presence of women in the movie: in the play, women are often mentioned but never appear on stage because the action is limited to the conflict between the men. However, because the movie has "opened up" the setting, women are more present and even directly interact with the soldiers (such as Big Mary singing with CJ), even if none of them play a major role in the story.

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