Death of A Salesman Review

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Willie Loman has been a salesman all his life. But as he faces losing his job, realises that he can't pay the bills and that his sons no longer respect him, he tries to put things right in his life…


Arthur Miller's play makes a stagey transition to the screen courtesy of director Volker Schlöndorff, who wanted the sets to look fake to make the performances more real. Hence an almost Dogville-like approach to filmmaking, with basic sets against a dark background the only embellishments to the actors' efforts.

Yet while the performances are exceptional – Dustin Hoffman won a Golden Globe for his titular role, John Malkovich is note-perfect as his son – the effect is stifling. As a play, this would have been the sort of production that packs in audiences night after night, for as long as the actors can take; without an audience, the impact is lessened...

Miller's play justifies its reputation as one of the twentieth century's best, and the performances are everything he could have asked, but the limited staging lessens the impact significantly. More of a sense of the world's mounting pressures would have heightened rather than lessened the drama here.