One Play = Two Different Films

         Plays are interpreted numerous ways. People depict them differently in their minds, and film directors visualize them differently on screen. A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879, has been directed quite differently in two 1973 films. One, directed by Joseph Losey, and starring Jane Fonda, is rerouted as compared to the play and adds scenes not originally in the play, while the second film, directed by Patrick Garland is a strong representation of the play.

         The openings to the plays are noticeably different. The first opens with a snowy scene, featuring an ice-skate rink, while Nora (Jane Fonda) and Christine (Delphine Seyrig) go inside a coffee house to talk over a cup of hot chocolate. Film two opens also with snow and a horse and sleigh. Here Nora (Claire Bloom) is arriving home with Christmas gifts and is greeted by Torvald (Anthony Hopkins).

         Film one conflicts with the original play due to the different sequence of events and additional events. Once the film opens, Nora and Christine are shown chatting and mentioning Nora marrying Torvald (David Warner). Also, Christine's former fiancé, Krogstad (Edward Fox) enters, and they discuss why they could not have gotten married years ago. His prospects had been poor, and she had to support her mother and two small brothers. The play did not include this previous information until later in the play. On the other hand, the play started with Nora and Torvald already married with children. The scriptwriter and director of the first film probably added these scenes so that the audience could get a better idea about Christine and Nora's relationship and Christine's past. The first film also shows Nora with her sick father, while Nora is pregnant. In addition, the movie adds a scene in which Dr. Rank (Trevor Howard) insists that Nora must take Torvald to Italy that winter to save his life. In the play this has already occurred and is merely mentioned through conversations. The first film also involves Nora reading books to the children, shows a scene at the bank where Krogstad works, and has Dr. Rank tell Torvald that he, the doctor, is very sick. After all these events, which is about half of the film in length, Christine comes to visit Nora, and most of the rest of the events follow the play.

         These two films are examples of different interpretations of the same play. The most noticeable difference is that Losey’s film provides previous information in the early scenes, while Garland’s film starts out by following the sequence of events in the play and reveals the pertinent information through conversation later on.

Shannon Logan

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