Hopkins' Final Scene Explains so Much

         Many times in film we find symbolism in the actual technicalities of the film. By this I mean, the way a scene is shot can tell the viewer even subconsciously about all the other aspects and emotions being held in the work. We can find hidden meanings in way the camera zooms in or out of a scene. I found this to be quite evident in the film, A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland in 1973 and modeled very well after the original 1879 play by Henrik Ibsen. Trying to put it onscreen, though, presents a challenge of getting across the true essence of the play without losing meaning. The real beauty of Ibsen's writing is that in its time it was unbelievably shocking in content. This play, about a woman in the 1800's who leaves her husband, had a storyline unheard of by the audiences who experienced it at that time. This latter-day film version of the play had to get across that same feeling, which I think it did successfully.

         The play leaves us with Torvald asking himself a question about, "The most wonderful thing of all----?" The audience of the film may not understand why this is important, but we who have read the play know that it is. The film does a wonderful job of extending this anticipation by giving us a long shot of Anthony Hopkins, as Torvald, down a dark hallway, asking himself about the most wonderful miracle. It has the same connotation and importance of the play but adds in some technical details that give us some symbolism and hints about what may really be going on. The final shot pans out from a close-up of Anthony Hopkins, as we then get a long shot, which almost makes him look small in his surroundings. The area becomes dark, and we are left with the shot of a man standing far off in the dimness of night.

         This final shot seems to say so much to the audience without even having to use a line. If we look in the context of the time the story takes place, we see a true tragedy. This man has lost his wife, who has just told him that he had never really known her and that she had never really loved him. His whole life has been taken, and he is now left to pick up the pieces. This shot panning out could represent his life slowly slipping away, and the long-shot of Torvald gives us a feel of how far from reality his life has become for him, perhaps even how far from reality it had always been. His standing in dim light could reveal many things about him. Perhaps this shot reveals how he is feeling, or perhaps it has to do with his life force slowly dimming away. This final shot gives us so many clues into the reality of the character and the real trauma of the story, which I feel gives this modern film adaptation a historical accuracy.

Kristin Meschler

Table of Contents