Friday, June 24, 2011

Glenda Jackson in Hedda

Glenda Jackson received her fourth Best Actress nomination for playing Hedda Gabler, Ibsen's heroine in the 1975 film version, Hedda. When you get a really weird year like 1975, you don't know what to think about how the voting could have been. I guess the two traditional performances (Fletcher and Adjani) were the most popular among Academy members and the two of them got the 75% of the votes. The order of the other ladies could have been anyway. They might have thought that Ann-Margret was due (God forbid!) or they were charmed by Carol Kane or they loved their favorite, Glenda Jackson in Hedda. I guess the Academy wasn't keen to give her a third award (since she didn't care if she had one, let alone three) so she didn't get that many votes.

Hedda is a really weird movie (OK, in 1975, weird is another way for me to say BAD). I tell you how the filminf of Hedda must have looked like. The played as if it was a play and there were a couple of cameras there to record it. This movie is nothing but a filmed stage play. There isn't anything special about it, even the sets are like on the stage. I guess this movie works for television but not for the big screen. And we can see that in the performances of the actors. First they are great but the immense amount of energy that's inside them becomes really tedious after a while. These are stage performances.

I'd like to say that Glenda Jackson's work here is different but it isn't, unfortunately. I really love Glenda Jackson and I consider her one of the greatest actresses. I think she was the Cate Blanchett of the 70s. An Oscar-favorite actress who has an incredible, radiant presence and a very uniquel beauty. Whenever I see Glenda Jackson, I immediately think "great actress, great actress, great actress". In each of her moves you see the brilliance that she has. And that's also apparent in Hedda. Still, I had very serious problems with her performance.

As I said, Hedda is like a stage play and the performances are all really theatrical (1975 wasvery unusual in that way, too, they also nominated James Whitmore in Give 'em Hell Harry!) and so is Glenda's work. At the beginning Hedda's character is really deliciously full of malice and she's a very enjoyable presence. In some times, all those mannerisms that she uses become tedious because they all seem to much. What I'm trying to say, that this would be an amazing performance on the stage but in a movie, it isn't. Plain and simple.

I really liked that Glenda made Hedda more and more nervous and desperate. Hedda is a very controlling, cold woman who becomes a victim after all. I feel that Glenda developed Hedda quite well and she really made Hedda a believable person. I just didn't feel that Hedda was such an extraordinary character. I guess this must be blasphemy but I think it's Ibsen's fault. I really didn't feel interested in Hedda as she didn't have much depth written to her. Still, I think that Glenda put enough emotion into her work and it all worked this way.

However, what I mostly love about Glenda Jackson's performances, a strange, indescribable feeling that I always feel, wasn't present in Hedda and that was probably the biggest disappointment of all. In the beginning, it was there in bits and pieces but as the movie went on, it just disappeared. That strange, mysterious thing made her work in the lightweight A Touch of Class brilliant and it wasn't here to make her performance as Hedda Gabler great. Overall, that was the biggest problem here.

Still, towards the end, her performance becomes much more dynamic and the ending is really great. It's theatrical and yet there's something really haunting about it. To tell the truth, while it wasn't amazing, it was really great and memorable.

All in all, this performance was still a huge disappointment for me. I guess the play wasn't for my taste or the movie affected me. I can't really believe that it was Glenda's fault as I always love her. While I don't think that she was really great here, I don't feel either that she was bad at all. This was a really decent job but I would expect more from Glenda Jackson than a decent job.

What the hell is going on with this year?

What do you think? It's time for the last predictions. If you want to see Hedda, click here.
To see Tommy (good luck), click HERE.


Anonymous said...

Queen Glenda doesn't like this...

dinasztie said...

Well, sorry about that. :(

mrripley said...

I don't like these film plays,too theatrical for a movie,what did u think of jennie linden in support,worthy of a nomination.

dinasztie said...

She was a bit weaker than Glenda, I'd say.

Timothy Vollkommer said...

Really enjoying your blog but you missed the mark here. (not that you can be wrong because it is your opinion). I am a self obsessed Ibsenite and I can tell you Jackson WAS Hedda Gabler. In fact, when Cate Blanchett played Hedda in NY to great acclaim most critics compared her to Jackson.