It is often hard to visualize a work of art intended for the stage or silver screen when it is in its print form. Vernacular language and emotions are hard to express in writing; and, while an author can describe a set down to the very last chair, the picture of what the setting looks like is left to the mind of the reader.
Sets and costuming serve to bring a written work to life, but it is up to the actors and actresses to interpret the emotions and actions that an author describes in his or her writing. An accurate interpretation of a written work can lead to award-winning performances that are never forgotten. A poor interpretation can result in devastating reviews from critics and a damaged career.
When I first read Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, I had difficulty picturing the scenery, dialogue, and action of the characters all at once. I also found the "proper" speech of the characters annoying in the screenplay.
It was not until I saw the 1973 movie A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey, that the story first came together. Jane Fonda gave life to Ibsen's character, Nora. In fact, she portrayed Nora just as I pictured her in the screenplay. David Warner did an excellent job portraying Ibsen's Torvald as a stolid, unfeeling, controlling character. The interaction between the two characters helped me finally understand the relationship, or rather, lack of a relationship between Nora and Torvald.
The 1973 version of A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland, also served to make the life of Torvald and his "doll" wife, a realistic story of deception, entrapment, and mental abuse. The movie successfully depicted the downfall of Torvald (Anthony Hopkins) and Nora's (Claire Bloom) marriage when Torvald learns of a loan his wife had made illegally, while forging her dead father's signature, early in their marriage to save his life. Hopkins' rage as Torvald when he discovers the truth is an effective catalyst for Nora's decision to leave him and their children.
The emotions and the relationships between all of the characters of A Doll's House come alive on screen in a way that the screenplay does not allow. This goes to show, without the innovation and talent of directors and actors, we might never understand the full meaning of written works.