A Zombieís House

A Look at David Warner as Torvald in A Dollís House

†††††††† More than any other monster or supernatural being, zombies and dolls have always frightened me. Luckily, the title A Doll's House is only a metaphor; and there are very few if any dolls in the 1973 Joseph Losey film adaptation of the 1879 play by Henrik Ibsen.

†††††††† But there is, unfortunately, a zombie; and his name is David Warner.

†††††††† Throughout the movie, I was unable to take my eyes off of Torvald, the character that Warner played. This was not because his performance was interesting (it was not), nor because he was stylish (he was not). I could not stop looking at him much in the same way a person watches a film about the Holocaust--unable to look away at the frail, depraved humans wandering around in the concentration camps. It is a fascination all right but not a pretty one.

†††††††† Torvald may not eat flesh, but in all other respects he certainly fits the image of a zombie. He is pale, ghostly pale, with ruby red lips and eyes that seem glassy and cold, similar to those of a dead dog's.

†††††††† Throughout the film, Torvald shows little passion or emotion, just as a zombie would. He never seems as though he has any love for his wife, Nora (Jane Fonda); and their one intimate scene has as much steam in it as a jungle in the Antarctic. It is hard for me to accept that Torvald actually has three legitimate children with his wife because I cannot fathom that this walking corpse of a man could ever have any of the desire, lust, or passion that is needed to physically copulate with another human being. Perhaps Nora had been paying off her secret loan to Krogstad (Edward Fox) in ways other than cash.

†††††††† Throughout much of the film Torvald is ill, shuffling and moaning throughout the house, coughing and hacking as if his lungs were filled with rot and decay. When he finally goes to Italy for respite, he complains that it seems more like a prison sentence than a vacation--a comparison that only a zombie or member of the undead would make.

†††††††† Many fans of A Doll's House often wonder what happens after Nora decides to leave. Will Krogstad's newfound love last? Does Nora get remarried? What happens to their children, left alone with Torvald? While I will not claim to know the futures of the other characters, I believe that David Warner's insipid, zombie-like performance hints at the future of the children quite strongly--they will be eaten alive.

Ashley Sheikh

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