What Were They Thinking?

         Sometimes it is better to leave things unsaid. That seems to be the case in one of the film adaptations of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play A Doll's House. There were two film releases of A Doll's House in 1973. One film directed by Patrick Garland stayed true to the play, while the other film directed by Joseph Losey went way off range.

         The film A Doll's House directed by Joseph Losey starring Jane Fonda as Nora, David Warner as Torvald, Edward Fox as Krogstad, Delphine Seyrig as Christine, and Trevor Howard as Dr. Rank was a disappointment. This adaptation of A Doll's House decided that the events that lead up to the actual opening of the play needed to be told. Understanding why the director decided these events needed to be told is not clear. The events that are told at the opening of the film are explained later on in the film when Nora is talking to Christine. All of this background history made the film too long. It was a surprise that since the director decided that we needed to see the events that lead to the actual opening of the play that he did not put in the trip to Italy as well. This film would have been a lot better if Joseph Losey had only started the film the same way that Henrik Ibsen had started the play.

         Now let us take a look at the other film, A Doll's House that was directed by Patrick Garland, starring Claire Bloom as Nora, Anthony Hopkins as Torvald, Denholm Elliott as Krogstad, Anna Massey as Christine, and Ralph Richardson as Dr. Rank. This adaptation of A Doll's House stayed true to Henrik Ibsen's play. The version of A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland, which was knocked out of the market by the version starring Jane Fonda, was a far superior adaptation. If Henrik Ibsen had been able to see both of these films, and had to decide which one was more to his liking, the one directed by Patrick Garland more than likely would have been his choice. The big reason that this version is better is that it does not bore the audience with all of the unnecessary background history leading up to the actual beginning of the play. This version of the play starts just about the same place Ibsen had started his play.

         What was Joseph Losey thinking when he decided to show us the background history leading up to actual opening of A Doll's House? Joseph Losey should have taken notes from Patrick Garland and learn that sometimes it is ok to leave an adaptation more like the original.

Jack Becker

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