Was It Bad Judgment or Just too Much Fonda?

        Jane Fonda is a feminist. I think that is a fair statement. She is a wonderful actress. That statement is also true to some people, including myself. However, I should like to pose the question: was she too much Fonda for Nora in Joseph Losey’s 1973 movie version of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House? My theory is yes. I believe Ms. Fonda’s political beliefs crippled her as a well-rounded actress. On the other hand, Claire Bloom, as Nora, played a genuinely suppressed Victorian Era wife in Patrick Garland’s 1973 movie version.

        Jane Fonda was not in this role or in real life a submissive person like the character of Nora. In this version Nora is a passive-aggressive character. She submits to Torvald’s every whim; then behind his back she does whatever she wants only to quickly hide her true feelings when her husband is around. Nora even lets her husband tell her what costume to wear to the party. She lets him constantly berate her about how she is doing her dance for the party. I just do not feel that Ms. Fonda portrayed a silent, helpless, timid individual. She was too boisterous when she was dancing. She looked determined and unafraid of her husband’s criticism. I do not think that is the way the writer Henrik Ibsen meant for Nora to be portrayed. I thoroughly think that Ms. Fonda did this role an injustice. My opinion is not based on my political views or other movies that I have seen her in, but just the knowledge of her character that she displayed. She was too strong, too over the top, too harsh. She was no one’s “Doll.” She was too much Fonda for the 1879 Victorian-age Norway. She reminded me of the band of women suffragettes in George Cukor’s 1964 My Fair Lady, the movie version of George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 Pygmalion.

        On the other hand, I believed Claire Bloom as a suppressed wife in Patrick Garland’s movie. I could clearly see the suffering in her eyes as she read her lines. Her terror when she did something that Torvald (Anthony Hopkins) would not approve of was clear in the sound of her voice. Claire Bloom to me was Nora Helmer. She had the acting ability to be something that she might not normally have been in real life. She brought different feelings of the character into perspective.

        Claire Bloom indeed brought the character of Nora to life without all the hype that is Jane Fonda.

Kristin Anderson