Henrik Ibsen's enduring drama about a Nordic femme fatale - a neurotic, controlling, strong-willed woman who is nonetheless alluring to the males in her town. She is a solitary woman in a society held together by kinship and class. If she had had more brains she would have thought her way out of it; if she had had more courage she would have bolted long ago with Lovborg, the only true creative force in the vicinity whose manuscript she burns in the stove as if she were aborting their unconceived child.
-In his correspondence and conversation, Henrik Ibsen repeatedly drew attention to the meaning of the word "theater" which in Greek is "a place for seeing." One of his most daring works in this regard is Hedda Gabler. Trevor Nunn has taken the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of the play and put it on the screen. Those who are familiar with this very serious drama may find Nunn's interpretation a bit cavalier.
-Glenda Jackson is superb in the title role. Ibsen's play "Hedda Gabler" gets a first-rate treatment in this adaption. Hedda is a restless, free-spirited and ruthless woman who enjoys playing with other people's lives and ultimately destroying them. Glenda Jackson gives the performance of her life in this movie. Peter Eyre gives an equal impressive supporting performance. Highly recommended for theater lovers.
-I don't claim to have seen every screen adaptation of Ibsen's classic about the fatally bored and frustrated Victorian-era housewife, but of those that I have seen (Diana Rigg, Ingrid Bergman) Glenda Jackson's Hedda Gabler is a work to behold. This is a film featuring many of the cast members from the somewhat controversial Royal Shakespeare Company stage production and it is the best adaptation and rendering of the play that I have ever seen. Considered controversial for its translation and direction which dared to emphasize some of the play's comic elements (Hedda's rather endearingly obtuse husband, her manipulative toying with rival Thea Elvsted) while almost daring audiences to feel sympathy for its heroine, it nonetheless is one of the most vital and emotionally accessible versions I've seen.
As person who longs to step out of the constraints that society demands of women during this time, Hedda's tragedy is that she lacks the courage to set herself free and is embittered about her own fear of scandal and worry over what others may think. Glenda Jackson conveys Hedda Gabler's almost mercurial changes of mood in such vivid strokes that it is often difficult to watch the other actors on the screen. One senses the tension that seems so close to erupting behind the laced up clothing that is envisioned to be as much of a trap as her over-furnished home and dead-end marriage. Though she may not be the most sympathetic of heroines, as portrayed by Jackson, this Gabler is never less than believable. She quests power over her own life, and, if failing in that , is willing to do the most heinous things in order to feel some control over someone else's. The drama lies in witnessing her consistently working at cross purposes with her goals due to a basic inability to take a risk, emotionally or physically. Hedda is the absolute architect of her downfall.
The production is a handsome one (very Merchant-Ivory) and extremely well cast. It's especially pleasurable to see "Star Trek"'s Patrick Stuart with hair, and to have Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden reunited after their memorable pairing in Ken Russell's "Women in Love." Still, for me, Glenda Jackson is something close to miraculous here. So many complex emotions play across her face and so much intelligence and craft is a part of her performance. Truly, she gives such ingenious and lively interpretations to scenes and line readings that each time I see this film I discover more. (As a side note: I was so taken by her performance here that many years ago when she came to town as Martha in Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" I almost gave myself a nosebleed in anticipation to the experience I anticipated. Imagine my stunned surprise when I saw MY Hedda Gabler give one of the most strident and one-note performances I'd ever seen by an actress. She couldn't touch Elizabeth Taylor in the film adaptation.)
Writers:Trevor Nunn (adaptation), Henrik Ibsen (play)
Glenda Jackson ... Hedda Gabler
Peter Eyre ... Jørgen Tesman
Timothy West ... Judge Brack
Jennie Linden ... Thea Elvsted
Patrick Stewart ... Ejlert Løvborg
Constance Chapman ... Juliane Tesman (Aunt Julie)
Pam St. Clement ... Berthe
Release Date:8 November 1976 (Sweden)
Also Known As:Hedda Gabler