Torvald’s Ruining of a Classic

        Joseph Losey’s 1973 film adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play, A Doll’s House, was the least interesting film that we saw this semester. Losey’s film lacked almost anything that made the movie worth watching. From the poor adaptation of protagonist (Torvald Helmer) to the “dreary” feel that the movie gave, I found it hard to concentrate on the plot and focused more on the humor the production seemed to produce.

        After reading the play numerous times, my main dispute came with how Losey decided to portray Torvald. In the original play, Torvald is a man that is doing well for himself and sees himself as deserving of a servant-like wife. The character in Ibsen’s original is condescending and angry at time, but nothing like the Torvald in the film, as played by David Warner. The film depicted him as an angry, chauvinist pig and showed nothing of the compassionate side that Ibsen gave him in the play.

        Another main factor that made it hard for me to find interest in the film was the setting of the play, and the way the Torvald mirrored that. While A Doll’s House is meant to be presented in a cold and snowy Norway, Losey’s film did nothing to counteract the miserable weather, and instead used it as a way to further the depression of the audience. In the original play, Nora’s character offset the weather, and gave the reader something to feel “warm and fuzzy” about. However, in this version of the film, instead of Nora (Jane Fonda) offsetting the weather, Torvald paralleled it. His sadistic nature toward Nora (and women in general), Krogstad (Edward Fox), and even his children gave the audience nothing the feel compassionate about.

        Having read the play numerous times, I have found that A Doll’s House is a play that I thoroughly enjoy. However, Losey’s adaptation is far from the triumphant work that I am familiar with.

Marshall Toy

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