A Doll's House of Cards

         While they both follow the 1879 play by Henrik Ibsen fairly well, the 1973 film A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland's film of A Doll's House from the same year are very different. At the end of Losey's film one is almost relieved that the whole charade is over, but at the end of the Garland version there is a feeling of sadness. Both the movies deal with the fall of a relationship built like a house of cards, but they deal with this subject in very different ways and resulting in two very different movies.

         The Losey film starts with a back story not included in the play. Christine Linde (Delphine Seyrig) decides to marry someone who is well off instead of marrying Nils Krogstad (Edward Fox). This background is used throughout the movie to compare the eventual relationship of Krogstad and Linde with that of Nora (Jane Fonda) and Torvald Helmer (David Warner).

         The movie is composed of many short scenes bouncing between the leading characters in many different locations. In many of these scenes the dialog hints at the sham the marriage really is. Nora comes across as being incompetent with her children, though she deals with the business of the loan very well; and Torvald comes across as being an all-around incompetent person fortunate enough to land a good job. In the end Linde and Krogstad get their relationship together because hardships have matured Linde; and she pressures Krogstad to grow up. In contrast, Nora comes across as a businesswoman held back too long to get Torvald to grow up, and Torvald acts as though he does not really care she is leaving. The uncomfortable marriage is symbolized by the overly long scene in the end where Nora gives her goodbye speech. After watching many short scenes, I found that this long scene is a pain to watch; and there is relief when it is all over.

         Patrick Garland's version of the film, on the other hand, does not have a happy ending. It focuses less on Linde (Anna Massey) and Krogstad (Denholm Elliott) and shows a much more psychological stress between Nora (Claire Bloom) and Torvald (Anthony Hopkins). Nora hardly leaves the house, and her and Torvald's problems lie further below the surface. In fact they seem to truly care about each other even in the end. The brilliant acting of both actors portaying Nora and Torvald show how tough it is for them to face the fact that their relationship is only superficial.

Andrew B. Hildenbrand

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