How do the play A Soldier's Play and the movie A Soldier's Story compare and contrast?

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The play A Soldier's Play and the movie A Soldier's Story are similar in the sense that the basic plot is followed faithfully in the film version to an extent that is perhaps unusual in Hollywood films. They are different, however, in that the film is a genuinely cinematic treatment, moving the camera to locations not depicted in the stage play and in general giving a naturalistic feel to the story which the limitations of the theater prevent.

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Any attempt to compare the stage and film versions of Charles Fuller 's best-known work must start from the assumption that it's impossible for a movie director to preserve exactly the features of a theatrical work. It is also not desirable to do so. There are, to be sure, some...

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films that are merely "photographed plays," but for the most part, a successful transfer from stage to screen must accomplish something at least outwardly different from the theatrical work. If not, the whole purpose of filming it is in some sense defeated.

A Soldier's Play uses the theatrical conventions of soliloquy, for instance, in a way that, if literally portrayed in film, might seem artificial. Film is a naturalistic medium in which the ideal is to depict something that looks as if it's actually happening. In Norman Jewison's A Soldier's Story, this is accomplished in the external scenes, for instance, where the killing of Sgt. Waters (Adolph Caesar) is depicted. On stage, of course, it's impossible to show "outdoor" events literally, and the playwright does not even try to do so. In this respect, one could judge the film as "succeeding" in a way the play does not. The illusion of film is that although the audience members know that what they are watching is fiction, it could, conceivably, be "real" in the way that action in a theater, on stage, cannot be.

That said, in the case of A Soldier's Play, the similarities between stage and film versions outweigh the differences. In general, Hollywood does not have a good track record of faithfulness in adaptations of novels and plays for the screen. Even in the case of a film like The Godfather (1972), for which the screenplay was written by Mario Puzo, the author of the novel, the movie alters and, arguably, even distorts several key elements of the book.

A Soldier's Story does not do this. Apart from those changes that are necessary in order to transfer the play to the screen and actually enhance the artistic qualities of the cinematic version, the film does not markedly change the basic content of the play in terms of themes, plot, and characters. If something is lost in transition, it is the immediacy of watching the actors on stage in the presence of the audience. In a soliloquy, one gets the feeling, correctly, that a character is speaking directly to the people seated in the theater and is, in fact, communing with them. It's impossible to convey this immediacy in the cinema, despite the aforementioned other advantages that film does have over the theater.

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How are the play and film A Solder's Play by Charles Fuller similar and how they different . In what area does the film succeed over the written play?

On the whole, A Soldier's Story, the 1984 film adaptation of Charles Fuller's 1982 stage drama A Solider's Play, keeps close to the source material. No major changes were made to the plot or the characters in translating the action of the play to the screen. Differences between the two are minor in nature, such as changing the location of certain scenes (such as setting the interrogation of Private Henson in a chapel) or cutting down the prominence of the Andrews Sisters' song "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" (in the play, the song also opens and ends the story, while in the movie it is only featured in the scene where Sergeant Waters speaks about his hopes for his children).

The differences between the two largely feature in the storytelling techniques used. The play is more contained and interior, with the flashbacks being performed alongside the present-day action as each witness or potential suspect tells his story. This allows all of the actors to stay onstage at the same time without breaking the flow of the story. In the film, the flashbacks are rendered separate from the present-day action in the traditional cinematic matter. This is less avant-garde than in the play, but it is much more organic to film as a medium.

One might argue that the greater realism a movie brings as opposed to a play is a possible improvement. The movie "opens up" the play's action, allowing the audience to get a more intimate glimpse at life for the soldiers, from their attending religious services to interactions with whites. Of course, this greater realism and "opening up" does eliminate the claustrophobic, almost metafictional nature of the stage play, so it is more of a trade-off than an improvement.

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