There’s one other nagging question that surfaces in the later portions of the film (where some of the energy begins to sag). Arthur talks about the poor reception that greeted most of his later plays, at least in the . (Some of them had more acclaim in Europe.) He kept writing until shortly before his death but never had another success during the last three decades of his life. One can’t help wondering whether this was because of the shortsightedness of critics and audiences or because of an undeniable decline in Miller’s writing. A bit more objective analysis would have strengthened this last section of the film. Nevertheless, for those who revere Arthur Miller’s best work, this film is an indispensable and deeply personal addition to an understanding of the artist and the man.
For, if it is true to say that in essence the tragic hero is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, and if this struggle must be total and without reservation, then it automatically demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity. The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy. Where pathos rules, where pathos is finally derived, a character has fought a battle he could not possibly have won. The pathetic is achieved when the protagonist is, by virtue of his witlessness, his insensitivity or the very air he gives off, incapable of grappling with a much superior force. Pathos truly is the mode for the pessimist. But tragedy requires a nicer balance between what is possible and what is impossible. And it is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief--optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man. It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possible lead in our time--the heart and spirit of the average man.
More than any other playwright working today, Arthur Miller has dedicated himself to the investigation of the moral plight of the white American working class. With a sense of realism and a strong ear for the American vernacular, Miller has created characters whose voices are an important part of the American landscape. His insight into the psychology of desperation and his ability to create stories that express the deepest meanings of struggle, have made him one of the most highly regarded and widely performed American playwrights. In his eighty-fifth year, Miller remains an active and important part of American theater.