Ibsen Rolling around under Ground

     Which 1973 film adaptation of the 1879 play A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, has him turning over in his grave? The most easily distinguished feature that differentiates the two adaptations concerns what Joseph Losey decided to include that was allowed by a camera and Patrick Garland did not. Losey was enabled by a camera to film the outdoors of Norway and therefore change A Doll's House.

     With the inclusion of outdoor scenes in Joseph Losey's adaptation of A Doll's House, many things in effect were altered. Henrik Ibsen was not given the opportunity to use the outdoors as Losey does due to the circumstances of stage plays. For this reason there are no such scenes written into Ibsen's A Doll's House of the outdoors. Losey, therefore, tried to utilize his own imagination directed in Ibsen's thought to create scenes played out in the Norwegian outdoors.

     Included by Losey is a meeting by Nora and Krogstad under a bridge to discuss their problems. The two also meet while Krogstad is playing with his two children on a snow-covered hill. Losey not only adapts Ibsen's A Doll's House but also interprets it through his own eyes. He, therefore, uses these scenes to create an altogether new story. Even though Losey remains close to the main plot of the story line he strays from a pure adaptation. Ibsen certainly would be outraged not at the adaptation but with the additions.

     Plays are meant to be interpreted every time they are performed by the individuals involved with their orchestration. Losey runs afoul by his vision of not what Ibsen meant but with what Losey wanted. It seems he wished to be remembered for recreating A Doll's House in the film version as a new and fresh treatment and not for merely adapting a great play to film.

     Ibsen would undoubtedly want full authority on his work as would anyone who creates a work of art such as a play. Since he is six feet under, there is no likely case for him to ever oversee another work again. In his grave, he likely would be turning not because Garland and Losey adapted his play into a film, but because Losey tried to take credit for creativity produced by Ibsen.

Brandon Lucas

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