H. Rider Haggard's She ["... who must be obeyed"], the novel, was set in the heart of Africa, but the 1930s film moved the setting to the Arctic. What purpose did that serve? What's wrong with Africa?

My only thought is that it could reduce the production costs of the journey portion, enabling easy matte-work, with no trees, boats, or cast other than the leads. In many other aspects, however, they were meticulously faithful to the description from the book. The shifting rock over the chasm that leads to the inner sanctum was exactly how I had pictured it.

Incidentally the movie, now colorized, is fastastically envisioned, with musical numbers! The book itself is marvelous, with well-crafted "ancient writtings" and back-translations to Latin and antequated English. It is discussed in the writings of Freud and Jung as an embodiment of archetypal storytelling, an ideal taken up deliberately in a certain well-loved late-1970s space opera whose name need not be mentioned here :).

  • 2
    And this is why you should only read the book and not see film adaptations...
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 9, 2016 at 12:17
  • Is this a science fiction novel?
    – Spencer
    Nov 19, 2021 at 14:15
  • @Spencer It's more on the fantasy side, but the author goes through some effort to make the fantastical elements seem plausible. The early chapters have long passages of "ancient" writing that must have required some serious philological skills to produce. Nov 20, 2021 at 1:17
  • Was I too subtle in the question? It's Star Wars! I'm talking about Star Wars. Nov 20, 2021 at 1:22

1 Answer 1


As you can see from the 'connected crew' search on IMDB, the film was made pretty much simultaneously with "The Last Days of Pompeii", sharing a Set Director, Art Director, Costumier, Make Up artist(s) and Cinematographer.

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Additionally, while Merian C. Cooper originally intended to make both films on a $1M budget (each), he was told by RKO that his budget had been slashed at the last minute with the lion's share going to the epic rather than the adventure film. This was also the reason both films were shot on black and white stock rather than the Technicolor we could expect from a big budget film of this era.

It's pure speculation on my part but it seems very likely that in order to cut down on production costs, the decision was taken to set the film in "Siberia" in order to scale back the set design and allow the sharing of materials (like grey paint, costume elements and sound stages) in order to make the film as cheaply as possible but still allow the grand effects scenes that had been planned out.

Additionally, it's worth noting that it had already been announced that 'Screen Attractions' were intending to cinematically release their successful "Queen of the Jungle" as a film so there may have been a desire to avoid looking like they were copying.

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