Hated It…

         When analyzing some of the films we watched this year, I find that—to avoid the dangling participle one in particular comes to mind--not because it was a spectacular film in my opinion but because it was just the opposite in that it was completely boring. The film I am speaking of is Doll’s House, directed by Joseph Losey in 1973. I am quite fond of other versions of this story but I feel this director did a terrible job in his adaptation. Within this paper I will discuss several of the reasons why I believe this to be horrible version of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House; namely, the intro to the movie, the cast choice, and the setting will be examined.

         To begin, as the movie starts the audience sees Nora (Jane Fonda) and her friend Christine (Delphine Seyrig) sitting in a little diner of sorts discussing several issues. Essentially the gist of their conversation gives the audience a preview of the relationship between some of the characters. This would not be a bad thing; but, as the film progressed, and it did so very slowly, a person comes to find out the nature of relationships between the characters once again. In fact, it becomes abundantly clear that the whole first ten to fifteen minutes of the movie were completely unnecessary. In essence, it seems as though there is a huge sense of redundancy.

         The second reason I did not care for this adaptation has to do with Losey’s choice of actors. I just do not feel that they accurately portrayed the characters. I am not entirely sure why, but I just did not find them to be believable. Namely, Jane Fonda, the actress that played Nora, was extremely off base in her portrayal. Maybe one of the reasons for this, and I remember hearing about this in class, is that she was in a woman’s liberation phase of her life. Thus, she seemed to be using the movie as a platform for her current beliefs. The problem with this is that Ibsen’s original Nora is not aware of the horrible situation she is in until the end of the movie, while Fonda’s Jane seemed, in my opinion to wear her awareness on her sleeve throughout the whole movie.

         The final reason for my distaste of Losey’s version has to do with the setting of the movie. In the book a reader can get a distinct impression of “smallness” or a very enclosed atmosphere. The characters live in a small place and do not have many possessions of value. In Losey’s version, however, a great deal of time is spent outdoors in the bright sunshine and show. This seems to really create a sense of openness that the original work did not seem to possess. As a result, it seems that Nora did not seem as trapped as perhaps she should have do to the theme of the story.

         In the end, I wish there was something I could say that I liked about this film; but I am hard pressed to do so. In fact, there were several times I found myself fighting off falling asleep as I watched this boring rendition. Perhaps I should not be too hard on Mr. Losey, perhaps this was early in his film career, and he had yet to learn how to be a good director. However, I can appreciate that at the very least he had cared enough to bring a good story to the big screen.

John Luttrell

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