Anthony Hopkins versus David Warner

         In Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play A Doll's House, a woman named Nora commits forgery in order to save the business life of her husband, Torvald. The course of the play shows how she cannot escape debt and what she has done and the consequences of it. Uniquely, this play was adapted to film twice in 1973. One version directed, by Joseph Losey, went directly to television; and the other, directed by Patrick Garland, was released in theaters. The first starred Jane Fonda as Nora and David Warner as Torvald and the second Claire Bloom and Anthony Hopkins. It is a unique opportunity to see two different takes on the same story in the same year.

         One of the most interesting aspects to look at is the character of Torvald portrayed in each film. Warner’s Torvald is much more distant from his wife (Jane Fonda); he is angrier and more strict. Hopkins’s Torvald is much more accurate in his depction of the character in my opinion. It was easier to see that, though Torvald is caught up in his career and work, he still loves his wife (Claire Bloom) and family, a feeling absent from Warner’s performance. Another interesting comparison is the performance of both actors in the last scene as Nora is leaving. Warner just looks blank and emotionless, maybe a little sad, but almost as if he is glad to see her go. Hopkins, on the other hand, portrays a devastated Torvald, a man who is destroyed and has no idea what to do next, which I think fits Torvald’s character much better.

         It is such a neat opportunity to see two different looks at the same story in the same year and the performance of Torvald in each. Torvald is a deep and interesting character that demands a great actor to capture him; and, while David Warner came close, Anthony Hopkins captured the character of Torvald as it should be.

Justin Wylie

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