Jane Fonda as a DollĖA Miscast

         When comparing a book or play with a movie, you should usually read the book first and watch the movie afterwards. That is what I did with A Dollís House. In most cases, I picture the characters of a book in my head and the movie reinforces or slightly changes this picture. With the 1879 play A Dollís House, by Henrik Ibsen and the 1973 film version, directed by Joseph Losey, this did not work for me. The play created the picture of a weak woman who was inferior and dependent on her husband. This woman was a loving and caring mother and wife. However, she was dumb and helpless when she tried to hide what she had done to her husband.

         Before we watched the movie, I had wondered how this rather short play, which covered the action of only a few days, could be realized in a 109 minute movie. As I expected, it was all about Jane Fondaís showmanship. The figure of Nora that Fonda tried to convey was not at all authentic to me. She portrayed Nora as a bright, strong, independent person. She tried to create a completely different Nora from the woman Ibsen did in his play. The title A Dollís House suggests that Nora is something like a puppet that is controlled by someone else, for example her husband. In this film, Fonda wants to turn Nora the puppet into Nora the puppet master and control her husband.

         In 1973, when this movie was made, a woman leaving her husband and her children behind would have been scorned. Maybe Jane Fonda objected to this view and wanted to justify Noraís behavior with the independent, strong figure that she tried to make out of Nora. However, the play made me believe that Nora made the wrong decision and should have stayed with her family, at least for the childrenís sake. The movie could not change my mind about this and overall, I consider it a failed adaptation, mostly because of Fondaís part.

Bernhard Holzfurtner