A “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is a tale of a day spent in the life of the Tyrone family at their summer home. The play begins at 8:30 in the morning, just after breakfast when Tyrone, the father lights up a cigar. We quickly learn that Mary, the mother, has returned to the family two months ago after being in a sanatorium for a morphine addiction. Edmund, the younger son, has begun to cough and Mary speculates it being a summer cold. We learn as the play goes on that he has tuberculosis as was expected by Jaime, the older brother.Order now
We quickly find out that Mary is still addicted to morphine. The plot of the story is driven by arguments. Each family member is constantly getting on each other’s nerves and drugging up regrets of old. Everyone blames Tyrone for being so stingy, which caused Mary’s to go to a lesser physician, which may have led to her morphine addiction. Mary cannot even admit that she has a morphine addiction and keeps complaining about how good things use to be. Everyone keeps attacking the boys for not being more successful. The drinking and arguing keeps getting worse all the way to the end.
Analyzing the play reveals certain cinematic devices implemented to affect the viewers response along with necessary non linguistic aspects exclusive to film format. The use of multiple cameras and switching angles can completely change the is the play is seen. Sound effects too can be added into a film production to bring a more dynamic aesthetic to the unseen parts of the production. Also a director can change the costuming if they please to take a more modern route or to stay with the time period. Devices used in the play were mainly the elements that made all of O’Neill’s directing from the script come to life.
While reading the script the directing was distracting and made me wish the whole thing was written to be a novella instead. However when watching the play made small explanations like “Mary: Turns smiling to them, in a merry tone that is a bit forced,” feel so much smoother. This is because we needn’t consider them while watching as we must when reading. This play made use of multiple camera angles which I found found to be very engaging, evoking the viewers emotions with slow zooming and camera angle switches. Were a viewer to go to the theater and see it performed live these things would not be so easy.
This became most useful and apparent in the final scene during Mary’s monologue when the expressions of Edmund and Tyrone (and a passed out Jamie) were important for the viewer to see. This production did not make use of sound effects other than footsteps and offstage laughter. It is more worth noting the complete absence of sounds effects. There is piano in the room which Mary sits at more than once but never plays. A sound of Mary stirring in her room is barely even heard but is made known to the audience by the men constantly looking in the direction of her door.
This is similar to the script where we we have so much stage direction and still very little sound effects. For the audience this adds to the saddened and depressive nature of this play and puts more focus onto the nuances of the characters and content of the dialogue. Along with how sound effects (or lack there of) influence the viewer’s response costume design plays an important role. One could say the lack of creative costuming is boring but in reality the clothing reflects the inward nature of the characters.
Each of the men are wearing 1940s time period outfits and Mary is wearing a dress that seems a bit more old fashioned. As the play progresses the characters become more and more disheveled until finally it looks as though that all have just left some party. Mary’s hair is down and messy and her blouse is crudely buttoned. The men too look similarly unkempt. This is especially interesting since as we near the end of the play the characters have become increasingly intoxicated (or drugged) and open with their speech. Not holding back with what they are feeling inside towards one another.
This only amplifies the audience’s response to the arguments and emotional outbursts and it is definitely easier to see in the play than in the script. The entire set is one big living room that does not change for the entire play. This is where camera angles come in handy once more. When an audience is looking at the big picture the entire show it can be difficult to focus on the intended place on stage where the action is. With cameras the viewer has no choice but to see what they were supposed to see the entire time.
This made the set feel larger because the camera is moving thus giving the viewer a different background with every step an actor takes. Referring back to the scene where Tyrone and Edmund continually make gestures towards Mary’s door, they are effective for directing the audience’s attention towards their underlying worry. In the script O’Neill does this however it is seamless in the production whereas in the script the italicized direction from O’Neill interrupts the reading. The actors move naturally with the directing attributing to their gesture’s natural appearance.
Supporting the gesturing is the effective blocking. It is well done in this production as well which only adds to its natural feeling. At appropriate moments of frustration arms are thrown into the air and pacing around the room ensues. Mary is a prime character to show the use of gestures. On several occasions she strokes and pokes at the piano which only indicates her longing for the past that is too far gone. The way O’Neill wrote this play makes reading it a bit strange. With all of the in script directions and details it can be a bit cumbersome for the reader. The 1987 production makes this all a bit easier.