Decorating a Doll's House

     In the film of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, directed in 1973 by Patrick Garland, great work was put into perfecting the art direction of the indoor setting. The inside of Nora's (Claire Bloom) house was very compatible with the furnishings of the time the film was set in.

     The fabrics in the house were all very heavy and rich. For example, the fabrics on the couches and chairs were all very dark and contained floral patterns. In addition, instead of leather or vinyl, which is used in many homes today, the fabrics were heavy cloth, which was very common in those days. The curtains and tablecloths were made of beautifully patterned white or cream lace. The cupboards, desks, and tables were made of very fine wood and created with the style of those days. The corners and drawers were very stylized, with cutouts and heavy molding design. The old-fashioned rocking chair, china set, and piano were all marvelous additions to the atmosphere of the setting. In addition, using an old fire stove to warm the interior was the perfect touch to the Old English style of the home setting.

     The Christmas decorations were ideal for that particular time period. The Christmas-colored paper chains hanging throughout the house, the candles and winding garland really added to the atmosphere of the holiday. The Christmas tree was decorated very simple yet beautifully with candles perched on the branches instead of the stringing electric lights that we are familiar with. I also thought the extra props in the house to be perfect for the setting of the film.

     I also found the very the first setting of the film which was the horse and carriage fighting through the beautiful thick snow to be absolutely breathtaking. This was one of the few times that the cameras were used outside. Most of the film was shot indoors. One thing I did enjoy about this movie more so than the 1973 film directed by Joseph Losey was the fact that the setting was taken more inside than outside. I felt that, by doing this, the prop and setting designers were able to use their imaginations in order to create a realistic atmosphere for the film.

     I really feel the designers did an excellent job of researching the time period and choosing the most appropriate furnishings for the settings.

Toni L Crum

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