Nora Helmer is not a name known by many, but she makes a big statement for women. Nora Helmer is one of the main characters in Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll' s House. This play set off reactions of all different sorts. It was the first play to show and get attention about women's rights or to demonstrate that women needed something for themselves like beliefs and ideas. What this play established was that women could put up a front and not know who they truly were inside. Who else would play this part on film?--none other than the women's activist, Jane Fonda. In her 1973 film version, directed by Joseph Losey, under the name A Doll's House, Jane plays Nora but does not play the part well. All the energy and spunk we have seen spurting out of her does not appear on the screen in this movie. Then, in the other 1973 film version of A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland, Claire Bloom shows how a real woman would act if she were about to do something unthinkable at the time. Ms. Bloom literally pushes Ms. Fonda out of the picture.
When Claire Bloom plays Nora, we know she is Nora, the little doll wife of Torvald Helmer (Anthony Hopkins) the bank manger. She runs around, buying things to decorate her dollhouse and children. She is helpless without her husband to "play" with her. All this seemed perfect, but Nora has been keeping a secret from her husband for years. Dolls do not have secrets; do they? This is the part in which Ms. Bloom really shows herself as Nora. She is faced with the problem of her husband finding out about her secret. Ms. Bloom shows us that Nora has a whole another side to her. She can be hard-headed, determined, and also very cunning and smart. However, her husband just sees her as a spendthrift little squirrel. In the end when Nora learns the truth about her husband, that he is not her prince charming on a white horse, she decides to become her own person. Ms. Bloom shows Nora as a real human, someone who is faced with leaving her husband and three children to pursue her chance to find out who is actually is. With Ms. Bloom, we see emotion throughout the whole movie and feel for the Helmer family. There are love, touches, kisses, with Nora and her family.
Ms. Fonda, however, does not help Nora's character out in any way. There is no real emotion shown in Fonda's acting maybe because she was so set in her ways of her real life. What is also lacking in Fonda's movie is any feeling that Nora and Torvald (David Warner) actually love one another. They never touch, or kiss with any familiarity to it. It was like watching robots trying to act. The Fonda movie also spends a lot of time outside in the Norwegian snow, which made the audience feel cold; and there is no heat in the movie to warm them up. In the end we are left with a cold feeling for Nora. Also when Nora is supposed to be leaving Torvald, Ms. Fonda does not give Nora any spunk or hard tongue to tell Torvald off. She explains why she is leaving in a very calm and uncaring way. Torvald acts as though he does not care, which did not show the big deal this is. All in all Fonda made Nora and the audience cold, with no realism to the character.
In both the movies the respective directors (Patrick Garland/Joseph Losey) followed the play pretty well and set the scene, as it should be. What really made the difference in the movie versions was the actress who plays Nora. Claire Bloom and Anthony Hopkins show the characters as they are portrayed in the play and give feeling and
life to them. Jane Fonda and David Warner are colder than the scenes outside and do not show Nora and Torvald as they should have done. So if there is ever a chance to see the movies again, I will go with Ms. Bloom in most kinds of weather; but, if it is a hot day, I may go with Ms. Fonda to cool down.