Even Ibsen Would Be Impressed

         1973 saw two filmed productions of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. One version went straight to television, while the other enjoyed a theatrical release. Anthony Hopkins and Claire Bloom star in Patrick Garland's adaptation of the classic play. Jane Fonda and David Warner play the same couple in Joseph Losey's production. The talent evident in the Garland cast sent Jane Fonda and her macaroons scurrying towards a television premiere. Jane Fonda's manic Nora is no match for Claire Bloom's portrayal of the same woman.

         Claire Bloom had experience playing the role of Nora onstage. The viewer gets the feeling that Bloom truly understands this tormented character. Whereas Fonda's Nora speaks at the speed of light and flits around manically, Bloom's Nora occasionally makes bizarre squeaking noises paired with equally bizarre hand gestures. Bloom is imitating the small woodland creatures, to which Torvald incessantly compares Nora. She is his "skylark," as well as his "squirrel." Although the squeaks get a little tired, they make perfect sense. Bloom's Nora plays perfectly into her husband's desires.

         Anthony Hopkins does a splendid job as Torvald Helmer. His Torvald seems to have true affection for Nora, even if that affection does involve her obligatory animal noises. The viewer feels such an intense pain for Hopkin's Torvald as Nora is leaving. You, as the viewer, want to see the two of them work it out and stay together. On the other hand, David Warner's Farrah-haired Torvald is so cold that it seems perfectly natural for Fonda's Nora to leave.

         Of the two versions of A Doll's House to come out of 1973, Patrick Garland's version is far superior. While Joseph Losey chose to film on location, the claustrophobic setting of the Garland version serves as a metaphor for the trappings of Nora's marriage. I firmly believe that even Ibsen would have been impressed with the cast and their ability to relate to this piece. He probably would have enjoyed Bloom's squeaks as well.

Miranda Turner

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