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I've now seen four film versions of Ibsen's "A Doll's House", and this
has to be the best. The first thing that grabs your attention is the
art direction/camera-work,which shows us everything through glass,
through netting, or reflected through multiple mirrors. This really
drives home the unreal hothouse atmosphere, the "Doll's House", in
which Nora lives. (As is well known, the story revolves around her
comfortable but barren relationship with her proud but possessive
The acting is wooden, but it needs to be. Naturalistic acting would look out of place in such a deliberately-artificial setting, whereas the long static poses bring out the gilded-cage ambiance of the story.
The look of this film is typical of Fassbinder's classical period, which I consider his best; it produced such films as Petra von Kant, Chinese Roulette, and Effi Briest. Nora Helmer is at least as good as the others, it's a pity it's so little known. I had to go to a lot of trouble to get my copy, which doesn't even have English subtitles. (Fortunately, the story is so familiar that most viewers will be able to follow it; otherwise, watch an English language version first - the Jane Fonda or Claire Bloom versions are easily available).
I am pleased to say that the picture quality is good, considering that the movie was made for the tiny Saarland-TV and then distributed by the equally tiny All-video. Picture quality is essential in a production which depends so much upon artistic visuals.
Great stuff, one of the master's best; I hope it will get a proper release on DVD someday. Wouldn't it be nice to have a multi-set combining this with the Julie Harris, Jane Fonda and Claire Bloom versions?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Nora Helmer" is a West German German-language film from 1974, so this one is already over 40 years old The director (not the writer this time) is Rainer Werner Fassbinder and here he used a somewhat famous story by Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen for his story. That's also why the names are Norwegian. The film is in color and runs for slightly over 100 minutes. The cast includes a handful of actors who regularly appeared in Fassbinder films, such as Margit Carstensen who plays the title character. The story is almost exclusively about her, even if minor characters get some screen time too. The focus is mostly on her marriage her and we also find out how money and a certain crime play a major role in her life. Carstensen looks stunning with her long red hair I must say, but sadly still I never really developed a lot of interest in the story or her character really or what happens to her or her husband. I have seen a lot of Fassbinder and this is nowhere near my favorite films from him. I can somewhat understand why it is a contender for his least known film. Overall, I give this one a thumbs down, even if it may be a good film for a theatre group to play because of the few characters and similar locations. Not recommended.
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