The Lights Are on, but Nobody's Home

     In the 1973 film version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House (directed by Joseph Losey), Jane Fonda made me want to run from the room screaming. I found this to be very disturbing because I liked the play so much.

     I have seen Jane Fonda in movies before, but I had never noticed what a pathetic actress she was until I watched this movie. It was hard for me to sit and watch this movie and not wonder how Henry Fonda's daughter could be so bad when he was so good. As I watched the movie, what bothered me more than anything was how poorly Jane Fonda delivered her lines. There was no feeling or emotion in her voice, and she was very unnatural throughout the movie.

     This became especially apparent when her friend Christine (Delphine Seyrig) arrived at the house and Nora (Fonda) began babbling aimlessly about Torvald's (David Warner) new position at the bank and how wonderful their lives would be, etc, etc. Right in the middle of this rambling she pretends, and I do mean pretends, to be interested in what Christine might be feeling or thinking. Fonda's words sounded totally regurgitated from a script and not at all as though she were feeling them or meaning them.

     This poor excuse for acting continued throughout the movie. When Nora met Krogstad (Edward Fox) under the railroad bridge, her anxiety and fear appeared to be far from genuine. I have shown more anguish over a broken shoestring than Jane did for what was an unspeakable act for a woman of the time. Obviously Fonda was not "in" the character of Nora. If she had been I feel her lines would have been delivered with the true feeling and conviction a woman of the time, in her situation.

     It appears to me that she did not take on this role for the sake of the role, but rather to make a point. In the early 70s Fonda was a popular spokesperson for women's liberation. I believe her taking on this part was just another aspect of her political agenda.

     Not only was Fonda almost comical in the role of Nora, but I feel that she did not do Ibsen's character justice. In the play Nora was real. Her emotions were true and heartfelt; and, although she did come off as a little too concerned with the material side of things, she still loved her husband and her children and wanted the best for everyone. I saw absolutely no evidence of this with Jane Fonda in the role. After I saw the movie, I was convinced that the only reason Nora had borrowed the money from Krogstad was so she could keep Torvald alive and eventually bleed him dry. Fonda's Nora appeared to be worried only with herself and her beauty.

     In the movie when Nora was forced to deal with Krogstad and the possibility of Torvald's finding out what she had done, she reminded me of a small child who has been caught stealing. She is not sorry she was deceitful to her husband, only that she is going to be found out.

     Above all Fonda came off as a total airhead in this movie; not only was her acting very poor; but she also did not seem to understand the seriousness of the whole role she was playing. It was as if the entire context of Nora and what she stood for went right over Fonda's head. It was a great disappointment to find a character I had liked very much in the play was like a stereotypical bimbo in the movie. In this film Jane Fonda's lights were on, but there was definitely nobody home.

Slone Hutchison

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