Hear Jane Roar

         In viewing Joseph Losey's 1973 film version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, I must admit that it becomes somewhat difficult to watch once Jane Fonda starts prancing about. Fonda, known at that time to be well into her radical feminist activist stage, clearly came into the role of Nora carrying some heavy baggage and with a predetermined agenda. Her focus is so clearly on this agenda that her character suffers greatly and, subsequently, so does the whole film.

         My interpretation of the driving theme behind A Doll's House has nothing to do with radical feminism or the empowerment of women. In my opinion, the entire point behind the story is that one cannot be truly happy while living the way someone else wants one to. One must have personal freedom and the authority to do whatever one chooses with one's life. In the story, Nora does not understand this until the end, when she knows that she will never find happiness with Torvald and the children and that she must leave them. When she finally does accept and understand this, she does not turn it into a big production. She sits Torvald down, calmly explains the situation to him, and then simply gets her things and walks out the door.

         Unfortunately for us, Fonda cannot see the point of the story for what it is and instead decides she must dramatically play out Nora's self-actualization scene in a manner that is transparently overacted. Fonda deems it necessary to demonstrate Nora's newfound power by forcefully demanding that Torvald (David Warner) sit down and by changing the entire character of Nora rather than playing this scene in the matter-of-fact way it was intended. Jane decides to push her feminist agenda to the forefront as Nora becomes suddenly all-powerful instead of simply becoming conscious of her own unhappiness and the path she must take.

         Fonda's overacting and decision to blatantly push the female empowerment movement severely hinders the credibility of Losey's film. What should be a story about finding true happiness and self-worth suddenly becomes a medium for one actress to attempt to forcefully impress her views on others. Because of this, I think the viewers of the movie can most certainly hear Jane roar, but she roars so loudly that they miss the real motive behind the Ibsen story.

Josh Gibson

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