The 1879 play A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen serves as complex look into the relationship of two people, named Nora and Torvald Helmer. I thought this play, as written by Ibsen, was intriguing and thought provoking. Nora seemed to truly want the best for her husband, but she did not go about it in the right way. This play communicates much about the importance of honesty in marriage and about the Norwegian social structure. Naturally, I could not wait to see the first film adaptation. Yet, I was extremely disappointed after watching A Doll's House as directed by Joseph Losey.
Jane Fonda, in the role of Nora Helmer, did not focus the ambitions of her character on the true care and love of her family as Nora is portrayed in Ibsen's original play. Fonda's version was released in 1973, and it is easy to see Fonda's real mission for releasing the movie during this period. Fonda spouts her feminist ideals for the entire world to see throughout the movie, which effectively ruins the original meaning of the play. Instead of feeling sorry for Nora and what she seemingly "had" to do by going behind Torvald's back to get a loan, I just began to feel disgusted. Jane Fonda's Nora treated Torvald (David Warner) terribly, and did not seem to care how her actions hurt other people. Fonda's Nora seemed to want the whole world to revolve around her, just because she thought she was special.
At the end of Ibsen's play, I rooted for Nora because Torvald seemed to lash out at her for no reason. I would have been angry too if my husband had belittled me for just trying to save his life. Yet, Fonda's portrayal of Nora sickened me to the point that I was glad when Torvald finally gave her a piece of his mind. She controlled him throughout the whole movie, so much so that he seemed to be a mere puppet in her domineering fingers. I can understand why Fonda would want to promote women as independent and intelligent using a play such as Ibsen's A Doll's House. However, Fonda took her acting to extremes throughout the movie. Therefore, much of Fonda's message was effectively crushed. Fonda's sense of liberty in manipulating the movie for her own views and gain only serves to lessen the true impact of Ibsen's message. In the end, Fonda's Nora just seems like a woman who deserts her family because her pride has been hurt.
This is why I much preferred Ibsen's original version of the play A Doll's House to Jane Fonda's movie adaptation. There was a depth and meaningfulness to the play that was definitely lost after Fonda tried to tamper with Ibsen's genius and insert her modern political message into a timeless work.