19 August 2011 | Zen-2-Zen
Rather Pathetic Rendition
"Hedda Gabler" is a tough theatrical nut to crack and this rendition hardly even tries. One could suspect that they were either just doing a rush job without any proper role development and rehearsals or that director didn't have the first clue and expected actors to do it on their own. Alas they couldn't. The result is so pathetic and unconvincing that some roles even look comic at times.
It is instructional however to see how pathetic and inept Ingrid Bergman turned out to be when expected to develop a complex theatrical role. Like she was posing for a picture book, unable to breathe any life into Hedda. Makes you wonder how many of her other roles were really the result of detailed direction and precision cuts. This film has long takes and Ingrid looks thoroughly disconnected and artificial in them.
She apparently tried her best and at the beginning she was doing well, say up to the scene with Thea which uses precision cuts to show Hedda's cat&mouse game with defenseless Thea and transition from horrified to relieved that Thea doesn't really know anything about her and Lovborg's past. After that she just got more and more lost (together with director) in Ibsen's ambiguity, not knowing what to do, where to turn and not being able to do believable transition into madness.
This can also serve as a good warning that casting an actress as Hedda just because she's Scandinavian is a dangerous thing to do. Ibsen is ambiguous and requires full scale Stanislavski process and a lot of time and serious work to do it well. Glenda Jackson and her director did theatrical production first and the result was much more consistent.