The Negative Impact of Excessive Setting and Dialogue

     In many of the films adapted from literary works, we are disappointed to find that much of the original dialogue has been excluded because of a time constraint. This is unfortunate, but it is justified. An unjustified sacrifice of dialogue occurs when it is replaced with long and unnecessary scene of people walking to and for; scenes not even described in the original work. Even worse than this happens when a screenwriter takes the liberty of adding a completely new situation; like a chalet at an ice pond. You can probably guess the film that I am referring to: A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey in 1973.

     In the original 1879 work, Henrik Ibsen sets the entire play within the walls of one house. Unfortunately, most mainstream movies value action more than acting. If A Doll's House would have been filmed in one house, the average moviegoer would feel claustrophobic and wonder where the helicopters and breath-taking scenery were. I am not implying that action scenes and beautiful cinematography do not have a value in film; after all we need to take advantage of this visual media, but scenes of Jane going here, Jane going there, Jane greeting townspeople. This is all superfluous. I received the impression that the director was just trying to add film time.

     Ironically, the scenes of this Norwegian village were the only thing that kept me from dozing off. The interaction between the characters was painfully contrived, and there was no depth in the actors portrayal of the characters. The lily-white snow and quaint cottages were the only things that held my interest. Unfortunately, this only added setting to the list of things that made A Doll's House a poor adaptation.

     In conclusion, I think it should be a law: If you are going to take a great play and turn it into a movie, do not make excessive additions in the setting, and do not make excessive subtractions from the dialogue.

Maggie Dale

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