Ibsen Must Be Turning Over in His Grave

         When I read Henry Ibsen's 1897 A Doll's House, I envisioned Nora Helmer as a strong female character. While it is true that she did take a lot from her husband, Torvald, she seemed like the type who would cast glances and roll her eyes behind his back to show her displeasure. She seemed more catty and conniving than simpering and weak. When I saw the two 1973 cinematic versions of A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, I did not find this Nora in either Jane Fonda or Claire Bloom and was very disappointed.

         Fonda's Nora Helmer in Joseph Losey's 1973 version was nothing but a whiner. She seemed to enjoy cowering to Torvald (David Warner) and simpering to everyone. The whole movie was filled with nothing but her incessant whining, sighing and giggling. I thought that she acted intoxicated throughout the whole movie. Even her final scene in which she said, "Sayonara" to Torvald, she acted like a simpering fool. The final scene in Ibsen's play portrayed Nora as a woman who had finally found her voice, but this Nora had yet to do that. I suppose that I had hopes that were too high. I should never have expected a good performance from "Hanoi Jane."

         In Patrick Garland's 1973 version of A Doll's House, Bloom's Nora was, well, just as bad as Fonda's version. The only thing different was that she was a brunette. Other than that, they were the same. What was with the whole "squirrel" imitation that she did for Torvald (the usually wonderful Anthony Hopkins)? That was just demeaning to all women. Bloom made herself look like an idiot. The one nice thing that I will say is that, unlike Fonda, she stuck up for herself more in the final scene. In the scene where she dumps the overbearing, condescending Torvald, Bloom was much closer to the literary Nora. She seemed as though she had really found her voice. However, it would take a whole lot for me to forgive her for the "squirrel" thing.

         Overall, these movies were horrible adaptations of Ibsen's play. Fonda and Bloom should have shot for a more independent Nora. They would have appealed more to modern women if they had done so.

Brittiany Adams

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