A Doll's House: From Boring Play to Boring Movie

     The 1973 movie version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll s House, directed by Joseph Losey, was an extremely boring and unpleasant film experience.

     I must first state that I highly disliked the play before I even saw the film, and I was definitely biased going in. That said, I doubt it would have mattered. The play was a dry, slow, humorless death march in which I found no meaning or any real redeemable virtue. I am not even sure of the point of the play was. Perhaps this is a fault of my own, but it did not make the movie any easier to watch.

     I did not have any real problem with the actors in the film, however. That is one of the few positive things I can say about it. Jane Fonda as Nora was pretty good, first playing the proper wife with all her hidden secrets and then later bursting out with them and destroying her marriage, but liberating herself. The guy that played Torvald (David Warner) was not great, but he did bring across fairly well Torvald's condescending nature and his subdued temper. The rest of the actors were not horrible, but neither were they memorable.

     I really dislike films/plays that take place in the exact same place almost the entire time. A Doll's House, of course, remains in Nora and Torvald's home throughout most of the play; except for a few scenes shot out of doors in the snow; and for me this idea is extremely irritating and boring. This is why I also highly disliked William Wyler's 1939 Wuthering Heights. I find myself wanting to scream at the actors: "GO OUTSIDE! GO SOMEWHERE! DO SOMETHING!" Now of course I know in the Gothic and Victorian eras staying at home was all people did. I just do not understand why people make movies about it.

     I did like the part where Nora danced the Tarantella. It was the most exciting part of the film for me. It was also a good symbol for the wildness beneath Nora's housewife exterior. The cinematography of this film was neither good nor bad. I was not overly amazed with any of the shots, but neither was it painfully unwatchable like Wyler's 1939 Wuthering Heights. The atmosphere the director chose matched the action of the film--plain, uninspiring and flat. It looked precisely like a Victorian house in Norway--no attempts to stylize or give it an ambiance. Maybe boring is an ambiance. If so, this film deserves an Oscar.

     This is not to say I utterly despised the film, but it is not one I would watch again unless I was forced to. I got the gist of the play from the play, and the film did little or nothing to broaden my opinion of it. In summary, I disliked the play; I disliked the movie even more; and I would not recommend it to a friend.

Dan Bush

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