An Alternative to an Eyesore

         I would have to say that the entire cast of Joseph Losey's 1973 A Doll's House, based on Henrik Ibsen's eponymous play, do not effectively transform themselves into their roles, but Patrick Garland's cast performs their roles far more accurately.

         We begin with Nora's character. Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play presents her as light, submissive, childlike, and playful. Had Jane Fonda the acting ability to pull off such an image, she would have needed some sort of vocal-cord surgery to sound like it. That was my first and biggest hang-up. In the scene prior to her marriage, a scene which is not in the play, she is speaking to Christine (Delphine Seyrig) and keeps repeating her name. It sounds unnatural, yet I feel the character that Ibsen had in mind would have sounded perfectly natural speaking that way. Nora's characterization in the play is evident enough for the reader to know how she should and should not be portrayed.

         Claire Bloom is able to transform herself into Nora, although the addition of the squirrel sounds is too much. Perhaps someone younger and cuter could have pulled it off, but it does not work with her. She is, however, much more convincing as Nora than Fonda. Also, Bloom's movements are far more graceful than Fonda's. I am still reeling from the scene where Torvald (David Warner) agrees to give Christine a job, and Nora (Fonda) shoots up like a pogo stick in an effort to look gleeful, and the direction keeps the camera rolling. I felt that should have been a retake.

         David Warner is every bit as wooden as Jane Fonda, and his character lacks the element of affection that Torvald feels for Nora. He is far too cold and one-dimensional for the Torvald Ibsen created.

         Anthony Hopkins, on the other hand, does a remarkable job. He is the perfect combination of commanding and gentle, possessive and playful, just as Torvald should be. We understand how Nora could have fallen in love with him, and we are a little sorry to see her leave him.

         Garland's cast is far more talented and does a successful job of portraying complex characters. I would recommend Losey's film only for those in the mood for an eyesore.

Naomi Deardorff

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