There were two movie versions of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House released in 1973. Two different leading men played the lead male role of Torvald Helmer, Anthony Hopkins and David Warner. Both men played the role they were given, but the effect they had on the role caused me to view them both very differently.
In the story, Nora marries Torvald because her father is ill. After they marry, Torvald himself becomes ill; and Nora is forced to borrow money secretly to survive. In those days it was seen as demeaning to borrow money and women were not allowed to borrow money themselves. Therefore, she has to forge her dead father's signature to obtain the loan. Later in life, Torvald becomes very successful; but he treats her like one of his children. She is forced to beg him even for money. Eventually he finds out her secret and blows up on her. She ends up leaving him at the end of the movie.
When David Warner gives his portrayal of Torvald, he is incredible rude and demeaning towards her. After he finds out about her borrowing the money, he explodes on his wife (Jane Fonda). Once he learns that they cannot get in trouble for what she did, he just keeps saying that he forgives her for what she did, and never asks for her forgiveness. He shows no remorse for the way he acts, yet he is still shocked when Nora leaves him at the end of the movie. This unremorseful, unyielding portrayal of Torvald makes the viewers proud of her for leaving him in the end of the movie.
Anthony Hopkins, on the other hand, plays a more loving Torvald. He does treat her (Claire Bloom) like one of his children sometimes, but is not quite as rude or demeaning. When he learns about her lies, he explodes on her as well; but then, when she talks about leaving, he declares that he will do whatever he has to in order to change. He appears remorseful and to be willing to truly work hard at making their marriage work. At the end of this version of the film, I truly felt bad for Hopkins' Torvald. He had not realized that how he acted was wrong. Once he realized that how he acted was wrong, he was willing to try and make it right.
I am a believer that remorse goes a long way in trying to forgive someone, and in these films it makes the total difference in the ways the viewers regard Torvald. Had David Warner's character shown remorse towards his wife, then I would have pulled for him too.