Sorry, Mr Ibsen, We Tried. . .Again

     The second 1973 cinematic adaptation, directed by Patrick Garland, of Henry Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House was another disappointment to me. Most of the characters did fit my preconceived idea of how they should act or look. However, Claire Bloom, as Nora Helmer, and Anthony Hopkins, as Torvald Helmer did have more chemistry than the Jane Fonda David Warner version.

     Since Claire Bloom was older than Anthony Hopkins, I had a hard time dealing with them as husband and wife; but, compared to Jane Fonda, she did a much better job portraying Nora. She was more "twittery" and sincere in her feelings toward Torvald. Bloom did a better job of "appearing" suppressed and creating workable chemistry between Nora and Torvald. However, like Fonda, I felt that if she must leave Helmer, she too would have had no problem maintaining herself. I felt that at times, like Fonda, she overstressed her character. For example, I think imitating a squirrel and screwing up her nose was a little too much for me. Overall, I was not completely disgusted with Bloom's performance as I was with Fonda's. However, Bloom, too, did not fit my ideal Nora. Nora, in both of the two versions of A Doll's House, should have had blonde, curly hair, a petite frame, a high, even voice, and a more submissive attitude towards Torvald.

     Anthony Hopkins, as Torvald Helmer, fit my idea of Torvald. He was caring and showed her affection, but all with a hint of sarcasm. He makes the much-needed connection with Claire Bloom, something that David Warner and Jane Fonda did not have, in order to portray the loving, but domineering husband, that Ibsen intended.

     The only character in the entire film that I had a problem with was Christine Linde, played by Anna Massey. The first thing that went through my mind when I saw her was, "Disgusting!" She was the most unattractive person I have ever seen. Every time she appeared I could not help thinking of how gross she looked. On top of that, her acting was pathetic. She would stare at Claire Bloom until I thought Bloom was going to say something about it. I could tell that she was just reciting lines and that, for her, this was just another job to do. Throughout the film I felt that she was cunning and came along only to destroy Nora and not to be her friend. I was much more pleased with Delphine Seyreg, as Christine Linde, because number one, she was more caring and seemed genuinely concerned with helping Nora and Torvald's marriage.

     However, this film, like the Fonda version, left me disappointed. At times the acting was strained and stressed, as with Anna Massey. The only character that really fit my idea of what Henry Ibsen had intended was Anthony Hopkins as Torvald, and I commend him for impersonating his character to the best of his ability.

Julie A. Hoffman

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