Previously, the only movie that I can recall seeing Anthony Hopkins in was Jonathan Demme's 1991 The Silence of the Lambs. In this film, I thought I had witnessed Anthony Hopkins at his finest. That was until I saw an entirely different side of Hopkins in Patrick Garland's 1973 film, A Doll's House, based on Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play. Do not get me wrong, Hopkins' performance in The Silence of the Lambs was phenomenal, but seeing him in a prior film A Doll's House provides an entirely different perspective of his acting abilities.
Anthony Hopkins played Torvald, the husband of the main character Nora played by Claire Bloom. Garland knew what he was doing when he cast Hopkins because I do not think he could have chosen a better Torvald. I must admit I had my doubts in the beginning of the film. I thought Hopkins' and Bloom's acting was going to be as fake as their marriage.
However, midway through I began to see them both in a different light. When the truth finally begins to seep out, Hopkins begins to show off his talent. His rage when he finds the letter and absolute state of panic are depicted flawlessly. I could almost feel him slapping Nora as if he were slapping my own face. He so perfectly changes his demeanor when he learns that all of their troubles have been solved. The way he apologizes and tries to rationalize his behavior is so very typical of a man in his position. The true genius shines through when Torvald goes to the very edge by begging for Nora to stay with him. That, one does not traditionally find in a man doing. The audience could see the emotion and desperation he was feeling in his face, body language and voice. I wanted to jump into the screen and yell: "Stay with him, you idiot!" However, I know that her leaving him was for the best and, no matter how much talent he may have at begging, he is still the man that rejected her only moments before.
This film made me see Hopkins in an entirely different light. Of course, I still prefer the Hopkins of The Silence of the Lambs, but I would not mind seeing a bit of this side of him more often. A Doll's House would have been perfect had Torvald and Nora sat down to a Christmas dinner of "fava beans and a nice Chianti."