Account for my likes and dislikes in my comparison of the film She-Devil and the novel The Life and Loves of a She Devil
(Critical comparison of the film and the novel)
The first thing that is striking one is the different ending of the film and the novel. In the beginning the story is developing mainly the same, but the ending of the film is completely changed from the novel that it is based on. There, the ending can be considered as quite bad and hopeless. Mary Fisher is dying because of cancer, and Ruth is taking her place after she has become a new Mary Fisher.
In contrast to that, the film has a typical happy-ending. Mary Fisher is becoming a serious author, and Ruth and Bobbo are certainly getting a relationship again after his stay in prison (it is not shown in the film). The reason for that may be, that usually Hollywood-movies - or American high-budget films in general - use to have happy-endings. The producers of the film may have considered the ending of the book as not useful for the cinema, because the public - used to the Hollywood movies - might not have liked it. In my opinion the ending of the film is quite superficial and simplified, while the one of the novel is very deep. The author is accusing and criticising the public, as it is usually in books. This declaration is unfortunately being lost in the film version. 27591zng79bzj8g
The whole sequence of action has been put into another order in the film than it was in the book. That is a usual procedure when you make a film. The viewer of the film already gets to know the main characters in the introduction, but in the novel, they are not all appearing at once but in the run of the action.
Another problem is the persons that are acting in the novel. It is normally hard for a film director to find actors which exactly correspond to the characters described in the novel. That is why there can be found some differences in the characters.
Roseanne Barr, the actress playing Ruth Patchett, is relatively small, but thick, in contrast to Ruth in the novel, who is described as strong, tall, and therefore huge. Mary Fisher should be small, thin and attractive. The actress playing her, Meryl Streep, is taller than she should be, according to the novel. That is the reason why the difference between Ruth and Mary is changed in the film. In the novel Ruth is a giant compared to Mary, but because this is not happening in the film, a striking contrast between them is the different amount of attractivity.
Ruth's children are described in the novel as being "the wrong way round", the son is small and feminine while the daughter is huge and more masculine. This cannot be found in the film version. nz591z7279bzzj
In the film, Olivia Honey is reduced to a naive, superficial blond woman, while in the novel Elsie Flower (she is changing her name into Olivia Honey later on) is much smarter and "deeper".
Nurse Hopkins in the novel is "small but wide", while the nurse (for some reason called Hooper) in the film is tiny and thin
Fortunately, the other characters, like Garcia and Bobbo, are mostly corresponding to the ones described in the novel.
The director has also strongly shortened the original story. A lot of extra-plots are not in the film, because there was not enough time to use all of the original. Examples for that are the several affairs of Ruth, which are not shown in the film.
Most of the happenings are not really important for the further development of the story, so they could easily be taken out without really making a change in the complete story. Those extra-events are giving the novel an extra dimension for the reader, which is, unfortunately, simply lost in the film. This procedure of taking out parts of the story which are considered as unimportant by the director is usual for making a film, and the texts films are based on are usually giving the reader an additional dimension. This is therefore not special for the "She-Devil"-film.
Most of the text passages where Ruth is having a job as domestic help in several houses (i.e. Judge Bissop, Father Ferguson) is not occurring in the film. Ruth is getting those jobs under a false name. That is why, in some passages it is written about e.g. a Molly Wishant, who works for Father Ferguson. The reader quickly finds out that this Molly is in fact Ruth, but Father Ferguson only knows her under that name. Ruth uses several false names at different times.
In a film you cannot make use of this procedure, which is only literally available. It always has to be shown an acting person in the film, and so the viewer always knows who he is dealing with. That is certainly one of the reasons why those passages where taken out in the film.
The film director changed Ruth's relationship with the judge who is handling Bobbo's case. She is calling someone that she knows from the Vesa Rose Agency and that one is changing the timetable of the judges, so that a crueler judge is getting Bobbo's case.
According to the book, Ruth was having an affair with the judge while she was his domestic help, and so convinced him of judging Bobbo to a long time in prison.
In the novel, Ruth is transferring the money from Bobbo's account in a much harder way than described in the film. She is going to his office regularly during a long period and transferring small amounts of money from the accounts of Bobbo's customers to Switzerland. In the film she is just making one transfer of a high sum. Because the story was shortened in that way, in the film the part of action is missing, where Emily Flower is handing out a part of Bobbo's money to Ruth while being in Switzerland, and then continuing her journey to New Zealand under the name of Olivia Honey.
This Emily Flower, or Olivia Honey, is in the novel a little bit smarter and deeper than in the film. For example, in the novel, she is writing a letter to Mary Fisher, telling about her affair with Bobbo, while in the film Ruth sends evidences of the affair between Olivia and Bobbo to Mary Fisher. This change was surely undertaken because in the film the same thing is shown simpler and in much shorter time.
Originally Ruth was having four purposes as a she-devil: "revenge", "power", "money" and "to be loved an not love in return". In the film, Ruth is having four comparable purposes. There they are not her goals, but they are a list of things that she wants to destroy: "house", "family", "career" and "freedom". In my opinion, those purposes in the film are more concrete and a bit superficial in comparison to the ones in the novel. This change has also been made to shorten the plot. Most of the original purposes, the director could not use: "to be loved an not love in return" was not usable, because there is nothing told about all the affairs which Ruth is having. The four original purposes from the novel would not have fitted into the plot of a typical Hollywood film.
The whole events about Nurse Hopkins, where she works in the home for insane people, are missing in the film. Because this has been taken out, Nurse Hooper (the name is changed for some reason) is instead working in the elderly people home where Mary Fisher's mother lives. This is another change to simplify the plot.
In the end of the book, Ruth is getting a couple of beauty operations which lead to that she is, so to speak, transforming into Mary Fisher. In the film, after she has worked in the Vesta Rose Agency, she is improving her look. This has probably happened by beauty operations or comparable things, but this is not shown.
During her work on that one book Mary Fisher is being interviewed by a reporter from the People Magazine, while in the novel a reporter from the Vogue is taking a picture of her washing the dishes. This change could be connected with so-called product placement in the film, but this does not necessarily have to have any real meaning.
If you look at the title of the film and the novel, you can see a difference. The film is called "She-Devil", and the novel "The Life and Loves of a She Devil". Of course, this could be done because of copyright laws, and for the reason that the film is only based on the novel, and so the novel has not directly and totally been translated into film.
In my opinion there is another reason for changing the title. The title of course matches the contents of the novel, but it is questionable if it would have suited the film. In the book the author indeed describes the life and the loves of a she-devil. But in the film, the director has taken out most of the loves of Ruth, the she-devil, and her life is also only described in very short form. The title of the original would not really have made sense for the film.
I think it is somehow a contradiction to make a film version of Fay Weldon's book. The author is criticising the writers of such romantic novels, as Mary Fisher produces. Those novels always have happy-endings, and are totally far from reality. When simple people, i. e. those who live in Bradwell Park, read that pulp fiction, they get wrong hopes and a false impression of their environment. The books work as a kind of escape from the reality for them. First, Fay Weldon wants to accuse the writers of such kind of novels, and somehow the society who is reading them. If you interpretate this critic a bit further, it could also include films basing on these novels. If you compare most of the Hollywood movies with that pulp fiction, you will find out that they have a lot in common. They usually do not show a true picture of the reality. They could further be wishes of normal US citizens, and not a picture of their real life. So those happy-ending Hollywood films are also a kind of pulp fiction, and Fay Weldon also criticises that kind of films then. It is therefore very contradictious to make a Hollywood film based on Fay Weldon's book, and changing everything to the pattern of a usual Hollywood film, when exactly that is accused in the book itself.
I do not mean, that I do not like the film "She Devil" myself.
I only have an aversion against those unreal films with happy-end, usually made in Hollywood. They show a totally wrong picture of the society and life in general. When they are based on real novels, usually most of it has been "censored". Everything that could be too critical or too sad or generally unsuitable for the viewers in opinion of the producer or director is simply taken out, and a film, normally suitable for every age, is produced. By doing that, the real meaning of the original novel is totally taken away or falsified and the story or expression is becoming superficial.
It is nearly always more interesting to read the original book instead of watching the movie of it.
I liked the "She Devil" film, but I still prefer reading the original book.