Playing Complementary Roles

         In the two 1973 films of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland, Nora's husband, Torvald Helmer, was played by and David Warner with Jane Fonda and Anthony Hopkins with Claire Bloom.

         In Losey's version, David Warner's Torvald was uglier looking and was much meaner and clearly unhappy with his life circumstance.  It almost seemed as though he knew that his strong wife could make her own decisions, and he thought he had to keep a firm hold on her being. I believe that he was made not look as attractive as Jane Fonda because he was supposed to be hated so that he could easily be dismissed by Jane's Nora and the audience.

         In Patrick Garland's film, Anthony Hopkins as the husband figure was seen as almost the exact opposite from David Warner's Torvald. First of all, it was Anthony Hopkins and he was a great deal back in the day and could not be seen as unkind towards his wife. That would have been out of character for someone like him.

         He treated his wife as if she were a child because she really did act like a child. I believe that if she had attempted or displayed some intelligence within her character, then he might have been the kind husband figure that he was being, allowing her to make her own decisions instead of making her mind up for things for the children and things around the house.

         I personally thought that the role of Anthony Hopkins was great. I preferred him to David Warner, although I enjoyed Jane Fonda's strong Nora more than I did Claire Bloom's weak one.

         I honestly believe that the directors purposely choose the actors to play the interpretations of their characters. Losey wanted a strong Nora and a weak Torvald to play up Jane Fonda's feminist agenda, while Garland wanted the opposite to present a version of the play closer to Ibsen's original intent.

Sarah Hurley

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