Hedda Gabler (1962)
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Hedda Gabler (1962) (DVD)
This 1962 production of Ibsen's immortal classic features Ingrid Bergman in the title role! Hedda Gabler has just come back from her honeymoon, married to boring but reliable academic George Tesman (Michael Redgrave). Refusing to tie herself down in life and name, Hedda is banking on George being appointed a professorship to secure a better life for the young couple. However, the arrival of cleaned up ex-lover Eilert threatens to destroy everything. Included is the bonus play, The Lady from the Sea starring Eile Atkins and Denholm Elliott.]]>
In one of the great dramatic roles in all of theater, the always magnificent Ingrid Bergman seethes with frustrated ambition. Hedda Gabler is a woman who, for financial security, has married an earnest and dutiful academic who lacks the passion and imagination that drive Hedda. When Eilert Lovborg (Trevor Howard, The Third Man), a former lover, returns to their city, she discovers that a new woman has rescued him from his alcoholism and given him the strength to write a brilliant book. Consumed with jealousy, Hedda seizes an opportunity to ruin Lovborg's life--and by doing so, places herself in the power of the glib and predatory Judge Brack (Ralph Richardson, The Fallen Idol), who longs to have his way with her. This 1963 British television version of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler is skillfully condensed into a taut 75 minutes, fantastically played by the superb cast (which also includes Michael Redgrave, The Importance of Being Earnest). Bergman and Richardson, in particular, draw out every drop of hidden resentment and lust. Accompanying Hedda Gabler is a 1974 adaptation of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea, in which a mysterious man from the past threatens the marriage of an older doctor (Denholm Elliott, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and a younger woman (Eileen Atkins, Cold Comfort Farm). This solid production feels a bit stagey and the script could have been better edited for television, but it does capture the metaphysical chill of the stranger's presence and the drama of the young woman's craving for personal freedom. --Bret Fetzer
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