A Full Doll House

         In 1973, two different film versions of the 1879 Henrik Ibsen's play, A Doll's House, were produced. One, directed by Joseph Losey, was pretty much a Jane Fonda vehicle that did not place very much emphasis on any other character simply because Jane Fonda was "the bee's knees" at the time, and it was guaranteed to draw an audience whether it was good or bad. The other, directed by Patrick Garland and starring Claire Bloom as Nora, was made in the same year but with different actors. Instead of placing emphasis on a specific character, it tried to allow the viewer to see many different aspects of the story. Both films remained somewhat faithful to the play, but the version of the film with Anthony Hopkins was, overall, a better film.

         Jane Fonda was once a big star. She had millions of fans and was well respected. Today, she has just about faded into obscurity, causing her film to not have aged very well at all. The other version, however, simply felt tighter and did not seem to put as much emphasis on the character of Nora. This may have been the reason why the Jane Fonda version was released on television and the other in theaters. More work went into the Anthony Hopkins version; hence, it was a greater film. It does linger at times, especially after Torvald discovers what Nora has done, but it does not lag nearly as much as the Fonda version does.

         Overall, the film with Anthony Hopkins playing Torvald holds up much better than the Jane Fonda version. It may have to do with the fact that people still know who Anthony Hopkins is due to his infamous role as Hannibal Lector and that Jane Fonda is an obscure memory at best. The Hopkins' version of A Dolls House and the Fonda version differ very little story-wise. But, the acting of the Hopkins' version was, overall, better, and the visual style stood out a bit more. The Fonda version, while delivering a decent version of the story, simply did not have the feel of a film that was to be remembered ten months down the road from first viewing. Jane Fonda was on the verge of annoying, and David Warner, the actor playing Torvald was not convincing until the very end of the film when he discovers what Nora has done. The Anthony Hopkins version may have seemed to be a bit of a pansy at times, but at least he was convincing. The other Torvald simply did not live up to his character's name, which is quite like the rest of this film version of A Dolls House.

Joseph Dublin

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