First serialised in 1886 H. Rider Haggard’s exotic fantasy adventure She provided just the right ingredients for the early pioneers of silent cinema. Adaptations of the durable tale appeared in 1908, 1911, 1916, 1917 and 1926. RKO raised the bar considerably in 1935 with a lavish version of the tale which cast Helen Gahagan as the eponymous immortal and Randolph Scott as Leo Vincey. This rendering still remains the most impressive thanks to excellent sets, costumes and optical effects. Thirty years later Hammer Film Productions were attempting to diversify their output further, and Haggard’s source material provided the company with the possibility to develop a strain of lost world/prehistoric adventure films. In 1965 Hammer were enjoying one of their most lucrative periods, and the evidence of this is illustrated by the increased budget and epic scale afforded to She. But this is Hammer’s interpretation of the word ‘epic’ and despite shooting in cinemascope the film never quite reaches the grandeur of the 1935 film, nor does it do full justice to the rich imagery of Haggard’s novel. But perhaps the greatest failing of David T. Chantler’s screenplay is that for large periods of the film very little happens. This has to be one of the most limp and lifeless epic adventures of all time; in short She is a crashing bore.
© Shaun Anderson 2011