The (Un)Happy Ending

        The film adaptation I had the biggest problem with was Patrick Garland’s 1973 cinematic adaptation of A Doll’s House. This was based on the 1879 text by Henrik Ibsen. The number one reason why I was so confused by the ending was because I could not figure out if it was supposed to be a happy one or not.

        Although I loved the film as a whole and thought it most closely followed the original text, I had difficulty accepting the ending. I believe Garland was attempting the happy, but tasteful, ending approach. However, I thought it fell short.

        It was happy because Nora (Claire Bloom) will now have a chance for self discovery. She can become smart and independent by leaving her realizable banker husband, Torvald (Anthony Hopkins). After Torvald gets mad at her, and then discovers the IOU, along with Nora’s forgery of her dying father’s name, I think the viewer is supposed to be sympathetic to Nora. Garland wanted viewers to be excited when Nora decides to leave him. We no longer have to endure such pet names like “my little lark” or “squirrel.”

        However, to me this ending was just as pathetic as the life Nora was leaving. In the relationship, Nora never speaks up on her opinions. She lies to her husband but demands trust and respect. She expects loyalty from her friends but does not provide the same from them. She plays the ditzy, carefree wife so well, that I began to think it was what she wanted to be.

        When she leaves Torvald, she also abandons her children. I think this is what upset me the most. That is not independence. To me, it is just selfish. Nora’s fake “innocent” routine ended what could have been a very strong ending.

        So was it omission of the “happy” ending or not? Although Nora was treated like a doll, I do not think she should have left in the film as she did. I would have preferred the “unhappy” ending where she dealt with the consequences of her actions while exploring the type of person she wished to become.

        I believe that for the ending to really have made sense, it should not have tried to portray a happy, feminist ending with a character who obviously lacks the personality needed to portray such a strong role. If the ending would really leave one happy, then one has not considered the unfair situation Torvald is left with.

        I think the “happy” ending should have been left behind, especially since it was such a feeble attempt.

Jessica Heacock

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