So i recently read the Robin Cook book “Coma” and really enjoyed it. And of course i was ecstatic when i learnt there was a movie adaptation!
So after my exams i loaded up the movie and sat down to see whether they did such an interesting book justice.
While the movie was pretty good for something released in 1978, they changed some major plot points and important parts of the major characters that really let me down.
i was expecting to see medical student Susan, green out of medical school with no experience and fighting to find her place in the male dominated medical industry of the1970s. I was waiting for one of my favourite scenes from the books.
Susan and her fellow students are asked to go an change into their scrubs. The men head to the Doctors lounge- which was pretty mens locker room. Susan heads to the nurses locker room- as that is the only place for the women. She tries to find some doctors scrubs in that room, but there are only nurses scrubs. So she sneaks into the doctors lounge and grabs some of the doctors scrubs. Her supervisor Mark Bellows is in his underwear when she walks in and is very embarrassed. More so because he is very attracted to her. She casually heads back to the nurses room and changes. I just loved how she casually snuck in to steal the ‘doctors’ scrubs. This scene also set up and showed us the readers how ‘male dominated’ the medical industry was, and that none of the other students even realised that there wouldn’t be any scrubs for her.
I loved this strong Susan who broke the stereotypes and the rules that bound women during that time, especially women doctors. While she still maintained her feminine side, her ability to empathise and control over her sexuality.
And the movie just didn’t do it for me. The Susan in the movies just didn’t do it for me (nothing against the actress though- Geneviève Bujold did such a great job.)
She wasn’t a young medical student, but an experienced Doctor. She wore a skirt (which was ok, but the Susan in the books chose to wear the doctors scrubs and i just felt she would be a pants girl. But i have nothing against skirts). She was in a relationship with Mark. While in the books she initially held off his advances until she decided that she would see him romantically. In the movies she is very inquisitive and spends hours in the library researching. She uses her smarts to get the computer read out that gives her the patient details. She doesn’t even know Nancy in the book- she just empathises so much with her because they are the same age, gender and totally fine until her simple surgery went wrong. In the book she is her close friend- and this just doesn’t show how kind and amazing the book Susan is. That she helped her and the other Coma patients because she felt so strongly against what happened not because she knew them.
Apart from the lack-luster characterisation of Susan the movie was pretty good. They captured the sexism in the industry and in society well and the Jefferson institute looked really cool with the intimidating exterior and the creepy interior with the hanging coma patients. it stayed really close to the plot of the book, with changes due to the limitations of a movie and their major changing of Susan’s character. I would have loved to see her medical student friends and her interactions with them- but that was not to be.
While it is a very old movie i think it holds up well in 2015. While there were major changes to Susan’s character that i completely disagreed with, it was an interesting movie with just enough action to make it thrilling, but not too much that the medicine was lost and the message it was sending was overshadowed.
Read the book first, then watch the movie 🙂
I ALSO JUST DISCOVERED THERE WAS A TV MINI SERIES RELEASED IN 2012! AND THE DESCRIPTION SAYS SHE IS A MEDICAL STUDENT. YAY MY PRAYERS ARE ANSWERED- IT ID 12AM BUT I AM GOING TO WATCH IT NOW.
*Apologies for my above excitement- but this may just be the portrayal of Susan i wanted. *