Paper or Plastic?

     A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879, was interpreted into two films in 1973--one by Joseph Losey and another by Patrick Garland. Each film consistently portrayed the play; but casting, scenes, and length set the films apart.

     A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey, ran one hundred and nine minutes but seemed shorter than Patrick Garland's film. This was due to Losey's use of outside shots and additional scenes that established background information of the characters. However, the cast in Losey's film was one-dimensional. The actors, especially Jane Fonda as Nora, David Warner as Torvald gave a flat performance of Henrik Ibsen's modern drama. They were like paper dolls, kind of flimsy, biodegradable, and out of date.

     Garland's version was about fifteen minutes shorter than Losey's. It seemed longer simply because of the prolonged conversations and the same scenery throughout the movie. Garland stuck to the script with long conversations and one shot of Torvald and Nora's apartment. However, the casting in this version of Ibsen's A Doll's House was quite different and more suitable than Losey's. The cast, particularly Claire Bloom as Nora and Anthony Hopkins as Torvald, brought the dolls to life; they made the story three-dimensional. These actors were real and durable like plastic dolls. The more durable Nora, as played by Claire Bloom, could have survived separation from Torvald in Garland's version. Jane Fonda in Losey's A Doll's House could not have; she would have crumbled. Plastic is around forever, and so will Patrick Garland's A Doll's House.

     These two interpretations of A Doll's House show how the written word affects people differently, or maybe it is just the casting. Garland and Losey adapted the same play to movie in the same year. So, why are they so different?

Ashley Burnett

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