A Doll's House: A Classic Example of Good versus Bad Film

     Most people have seen a film at one time or another that was lacking in some aspect. Some films have marvelous actors with a poor director. Other films have a brilliant set design and vision from the director, with a very weak cast. In the 1973 version of A Doll's House, by Joseph Losey, we find not only weak directing, but also a weak cast, with the exception of Dr. Rank (Trevor Howard).

     The character of Nora in A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, is a very complex one. The flaws found in Losey s production was more than perfected by director Patrick Garland's production of A Doll's House within the same year, and included a powerful cast that causes Losey's work to pale in comparison.

     In comparing the actresses of Jane Fonda and Claire Bloom as Nora, we can immediately see the shortcomings of Fonda's performance and attributes of Bloom's. Between the two, there is a distinct difference in mannerisms and overall attitude. Fonda portrays Nora in a rather flat, one-dimensional manner, whereas Bloom recognizes Nora for what she was, a strong, intelligent woman that had been repressed for far too long and was able to portray her vision of the character in an impressive way.

     In the beginning of Losey's film, we see Nora (Jane Fonda) and Christine (Delphine Seyrig) walking in the snow, and talking in the lodge by the ski slope. This opening scene carries on for far too long. Thus, since the opening scene seems to lag on forever, as most would agree, the audience's attention is lost by the time we begin into the heart of the story. Furthermore, the relationship between Torvald and Nora is a weak one, with the original interaction between them in the play being lost in the film. We do not see Nora and Torvald (David Warner) as being in love; instead we view them as an old married couple, which I cannot believe is how Ibsen intended the couple to be perceived.

     In contrast, the 1973 work by Patrick Garland personifies Nora (Claire Bloom) and Torvald (Anthony Hopkins) and their relationship in what I believe would have been the way Ibsen intended. Their relationship consists of cute, loving conversation between the two, with Torvald treating Nora as his little doll.

     All in all, we can perhaps view these two works as the basis for what good and bad film is. Each director is encouraged to bring his or her own ideas to the film; however, sometimes it is a smashing success; and other times it is a miserable failure. Here, audiences were able to witness both.

Erica Hulse

Table of Contents