War of the Women: Fonda versus Bloom

     In 1973 two motion pictures were released based on the same story. One starred the headstrong feminist, Jane Fonda. The other brought Claire Bloom into view. Both had the role of playing Nora Helmer from Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House. The two actresses memorized the same lines but acted the parts completely opposite

     Jane Fonda, under the direction of Joseph Losey, played her role with no talent. It was her own personality as a feminist, not an actress (not that feminism is a bad thing) that ruined this particular role. Nora should be weak as Ibsen intended. I saw in Fonda, while playing Nora Helmer, her strong resolution and autonomy. The fear she displays concerning Torvald (David Warner) becoming aware of her fraudulent deed was not at all convincing.

     Patrick Garland, the director of the second movie of the same title, created an entirely different Nora with the help of the wonderful Claire Bloom and the soon-to-be very famous Anthony Hopkins as Torvald Helmer. Bloom captures the role with much more maturity and plays the weak housewife. She truly lives in a doll's house. Her actions with her children clearly reflect how they are her dolls and not her children. She can also make those little bird noises better than Fonda could.

     Bloom and Fonda both played the same part. In my opinion, Bloom simply is the better of the two. Her facial expressions, posture, and voice all reflect the fears and shortcomings of Nora Helmer, as Ibsen had intended; so at the end her self realization was that much more dramatic. Fonda blew the role and telegraphed the ending from the very start of the film

Paul M. Helwagen.

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