This week ‘Carnage’ is released on DVD and Blue Ray in the UK. With an all star cast that includes Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly and directed by one of the greatest and most infamous directors in film history Roman Polanski. The film is based on the play ‘God of Carnage’ (originally ‘Le Dieu du Carnage’) by Yasmina Reza. A critically successful play that has had productions in Paris, London’s West End and on Broadway. With a host of A list film actors as part of the various theatre cast’s including Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini.
Well known film classics have often began as plays before becoming successes the big screen: ‘Footloose’, ‘Chicago’,’ Annie’ to name but a few. ‘Carnage’ undertook an interesting transition to the different medium of film from theatre. The film takes place in one setting of a small flat in New York, something that is very uncommon to do in films taken from plays as usually the plot is altered to suit a change in location in an attempt to hold the attention of the viewer. Instead Roman Polanski decided to embrace the one cramped location, with only one shot in a different location used for the opening and closing credits (also the only time in the film when other actors are shown, apart from the 4 protagonist roles). This adds to the tension of the film greatly as the audience are forced to experience the discomfort of the character who are trying to deal with a very awkward situation. The films plot is centred around two couples dealing with the issue of their their children having a fight at a park where one of their children assaulted the others with a stick. The actors all give fantastic performances however the standout perfomance amongst them is from Christoph Waltz ( the least known of the A list actors) who’s animated and almost reptilian like expressions and body language are truly mesmerizing to watch.
Polanski has dealt with the issue of only one location and four actors throughout the film possibly not holding the audiences attention, by making the running time 80 minutes. Something that is very unusual in feature films where the conventional running time is 90 minutes or above. ‘Carnage’ has received awards for its accomplishments, however unlike other film adaptations from a play, such as ‘Chicago’ these awards have largely been for the acting achievements of the cast and not the film itself. Also unlike successful film adaptations like ‘Chicago’, ‘Carnage’ stays very close to the original theatre script. Possibly if Polanski had taken it into a new fiilmic direction the film may have been seen as a film achievement in its own right, rather than just a film of a play.
‘Carnage’ is available to buy on Blue Ray and DVD now.