A Doll's House
by Heidi Morstang

A snowy, desolate landscape with a forest in the background and a few scattered trees in the foreground


  • 1Video still from A Doll's House
  • 2Video still from A Doll's House
  • 3Video still from A Doll's House
  • 4Video still from A Doll's House
  • 5Video still from A Doll's House

Video still from A Doll's House


Heidi Morstang’s film A Doll’s House presents snow immersed forest landscapes, drifting across the screen and fading one to the next. Influenced by Ibsen’s play of the same name, the stillness of the visuals is broken by the chill and somehow painful sound of skis slicing through the snow at speed.

A Doll's House is a contemporary interpretation of the classic realist drama by Henrik Ibsen of the same title. The play is a portrayal of social and material aspiration, it explores the struggle to achieve a perfect life and maintain societal conventions. Although the play focuses on crossing the boundaries constructed by society, it also explores the futility of trying to control one's surroundings. The search for independence, particularly for women, is a central theme as is the struggle to conceal what lies behind the façade. These elements are inspired by Ibsen's view of the Norwegian landscape:

Anyone who wishes to understand me fully must know Norway, the severe landscape... and the lonely shut-off life.
Henrik Ibsen

A Doll's House draws on Ibsen's interest in the landscape and is constructed from digital video stills of a Norwegian winter landscape, densely forested and frozen, dominated by snowy hills, wide open spaces and frozen lakes. Every year, snow falls and covers the forest, the hills and the lakes. The lakes freeze and become wide open spaces; ski tracks and the snow covered trees form natural boundaries in the terrain. These traces in the snow are vital visual and symbolic elements in the work; whether borders are based on gender or social, political or religious beliefs, entering an unknown landscape is often a challenge to the independence of the individual.the marks of civilisation on the landscape are only visible briefly, until it snows again and nature dissolves the human tracks.

The images in A Doll's House convey a frozen, cold and hostile landscape; a no-man's land. By moving from the open space of frozen lakes into the forest and from light to darker shades of the landscape the work reflects the dual serenity and hostility of the environment and the human conflicts within the play. The audio similarly reflects the change of emotions through the contrast of silence and the crescendo of ski blades cutting through snow, of wind, silence and cracking ice.



Year 2004
Duration: 4 minutes and 40 seconds
Original Format
Screening Format
Aspect ratio
Audio Yes
Colour/B&W Colour


Commissioned by Picture This in collaboration with R O O M.

Screening history:

12 November 2005 – 17 April 2006
'The Art of White'
Lowry, Salford, UK

05 December 2004 – 06 February 2005
'The White Station'
Pump House Gallery, London, UK

23 April – 09 May 2004
R O O M, Bristol, UK

Related Items:

Heidi Morstang

Heidi Morstang produced her film A Doll's House through Picture This' Small Wonders Scheme.

Small Wonders
2002 - 2009

Our Small Wonders professional development scheme offered artists the mentoring support and technical resources needed for making film and video