Misunderstanding a Character

         As a reader I have grown tired of pointless subplots and sub characters. In a story every character should advance the main story of the book. In Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House the main story is Nora's movement to the realization of what her life has been, and that she must escape. The character of Dr. Rank is of a substantial importance to this plot. He serves as the intellectual outlet that is necessary for Nora's life to have some fulfillment. When that outlet is removed, so disappears an essential support for Nora's life with Torvald. In the Joseph Losey 1973 film version of A Doll's House, starring Jane Fonda, however, it is difficult to see what importance his character has to the movie. Removing some scenes and editing some others so that we cannot see the importance of Dr. Rank (Trevor Howard) result in this loss of an essential character.

         The loss was pretty well established in their first interaction. In the play we really get the feeling that they have an intimate relationship and that he is a confidant. In the movie for some reason their association passes us by without our being able to really find a reason for its existence. We get the feeling that Dr. Rank is just more of a transient figure on any given day than her confidant. Maybe this is the case because it is not as clear as in the play that she tells him about her past and does not tell Torvald.

         The key scene is the point at which she goes to him thinking about asking for help in paying back her loan to Krogstad (Edward Fox) because he is threatening to expose her debt and forgery of her dead father's signature to her husband to keep his job in the bank. In the play, we get not only the revelation of his love but also an explanation of what he means to her. We see that her life has been the same pattern and that he has filled a necessary role in her life and vice versa. We see why removing him from her life is another huge stressor on the house of cards her relationship with Torvald is. In the movie the film makers cut out almost all the scene after he confesses to loving her. So the scene only shows Nora not getting the money from Dr. Rank to pay off her loan to Krogstad.

         It is one of those situations that just drag down a movie. Dr. Rank comes off more as a plot device then anything else in the movie. That is really a shame since it means that, when his death letter comes to the Torvalds, we really do not see any major significance in his demise.

Jerard Moxley

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