Thumbs up for Bloom and Hopkins

     When watching Joseph Losey's 1973 cinematic version of the play A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Who in their right mind would cast Jane Fonda as the sweet, childlike Nora Helmer? Jane Fonda belongs in a women's lib march or an aerobic video, certainly not in a doll's house. She and her husband, Torvald (David Warner), make a very unconvincing couple. Torvald is supposed to be portrayed as a kind, playful husband who cares about his wife and children. Nora should be portrayed as a sweet, innocent housewife whose sole purpose in life is to please her husband. David Warner seemed as though he was struggling desperately to at least appear a loving husband. Fonda is far too strong-willed to play a naïve housewife. She seemed as though she could barely stand to be around Torvald. The two were just not meant for the roles of husband and wife, and especially not for the roles of Nora and Torvald. For these reasons, I was genuinely relieved to see Anthony Hopkins and Claire Bloom play Torvald and Nora in the 1973 motion picture A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland.

     Claire Bloom's short stature and petite frame give her the upper hand over Fonda from the very beginning. At first glimpse, Bloom even looks like a small, porcelain doll. Her hair is perfectly in place, and her clothing is always neat and fresh. Her stage experience may have provided her with even more of an advantage. She is good at flitting about, making squirrel faces, and playing games with her husband. Unlike Jane, she even cuddles with Torvald from time to time. All of this behavior makes her a much more convincing wife. One can see the love she has for Torvald and the happiness she has for life. She is even still more convincing in the end when she wants to leave Torvald. She is sincerely angry, and it shows all over her face and in her voice. Jane Fonda seemed as though she was trying to play the role of a strong, independent woman without acknowledging that she was also a wife talking to her husband. Also, Jane did not act as silly and naïve as Claire. Perhaps, this is the case because she thought that she was too good for the role. Bloom exaggerated her role as a "little squirrel," and her character was all the better for it. Her doll-like manner and sheltered naivety make her twice the actress that Fonda is.

     Now, we have Anthony Hopkins as Torvald--Bravo! This actor can play anyone from Hannibal to Zorro. He makes an extremely convincing Torvald Helmer. He has that incredibly soothing voice that sounds very convincing when calling Nora by his little pet names. Hopkins' Torvald and Bloom's Nora seem genuinely happy in their marriage. There is much more chemistry between the two actors. Hopkins is also very good at playing an angry husband. The scene in which he hits his wife is so believable that it sent gasps throughout the room. His personality has to switch from happy to mad and back to happy within only a few minutes. Anthony Hopkins is much better at making this transition than David Warner. I felt truly sorry for him as he fought to keep his family together when Nora leaves him. Hopkins did a wonderful job of portraying Torvald Helmer as he was meant to be portrayed.

     Jane Fonda dwelled too much upon the story's feminist ending and lacked the ability to truly portray Nora's doll-like existence. From beginning to end, Torvald's foolishness was best shown through the acting of Anthony Hopkins. Together, Claire Bloom and Anthony Hopkins make a perfect pair.

Megan Douglas

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