Hedda Gabler [1980]

The story of a 19th century woman who feels trapped in her marriage and overwhelmed by her own powerlessness, this 1981 television adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play focuses on the interpersonal relationships of the newly married Hedda Gabler (Diana Rigg). Hedda returns from a lavish, extended honeymoon feeling out-of-sorts and yearning for stimulation. Instead, she encounters a dull life of ailing relatives, few social encounters, and day-to-day life in a house she never particularly liked with a husband whom she finds rather boring. The promise of excitement lures as Hedda, ex-heart-throb Eilert Lovborg (Philip Bond), school acquaintance Thea Elvsted (Elizabeth Bell), and local Judge Brack (Alan Dobie) are thrown together and begin to interact in an increasingly complicated and very personal manner. All is kept secret from Hedda's husband George Desmond (Denis Lill) and Hedda is initially exuberant and energized as a result of her new relationships, but she quickly comes to realize that she is not nearly as in control of the situation as she had imagined and, in the end, her sense of despair at her own powerlessness profoundly affects her future and the futures of those closest to her. Presented in four acts, this British production features talented actors and an effective combination of period costuming, sparse music, and simple photography. --Tami Horiuchi

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