The revival of interest in Ibsen's 'Wild Duck' is demonstrated by the production of the play in West Berlin, by Ingmar Bergman, and in East Berlin, at the Volksbuhne. A British-Norwegian film version was also made in 1974. Hans Geissendörfer has produced a new and different version. He says he is trying 'to express the hopes, the problems, the feelings and the relationships of three or four people; the historical and literary significance of Ibsen is of secondary importance.'
The Ekdal family - Hjalmar, his wife Gina, the fourteen year old Hedwig, and old Captain Ekdal - live off the income from the photography studio looked after by Gina, with Hedwig helping her father by retouching photos. Each day, Hjalmar retires after lunch, to work on a secret invention.
One day, Hjalmar and Gina are invited to dine with Consul Werle. They are very surprised; it is a long time since they have been in high society. Not long after, the Consul's son, Gregers, comes to the house, explaining that he has left his parents and asking to be put up by the Ekdals. It is Hedwig who introduces him to the family routine; she shows him the animals they keep in the attic, and introduces him to her favourite companion, the wild duck.
Hjalmar takes Gregers in to see his famous invention, but it turns out to be merely a figment of his imagination. Gregers decides that Hjalmar has been living too long in a world of self-deception and fantasy; he does not even seem to have realised that Gina had been the Consul's mistress before becoming his wife, and that the marriage was arranged by the Consul. Gregers, attempting to make Hjalmar face reality at last explains all this to him. Almost deranged by grief, Hjalmar roughly turns on a bewildered Hedwig.
When Hedwig receives a letter from the Consul, the family discovers that she will be given an annual allowance. Hjalmar now starts to doubt whether Hedwig is his own child. Gregers, trying to reconcile the two, persuades Hedwig to demonstrate her love for her father by sacrificing her beloved wild duck. The next day on Hedwig's birthday, Hjalmar is packing to leave his family, when Hedwig goes to the attic. A shot is heard ...