Spoiler Alert: “The Way up to Heaven” by Roald Dahl
Julie Harris’ performance in the film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The Way up to Heaven” was very convincing and realistic. Her facial expressions and tone perfectly captured Mrs. Foster’s dilemma. All the actors and actresses did a great job with capturing the feel of the story. The actor who played Mr. Foster did a fantastic job with his role, for he was really annoying and self-absorbed and cruel, which was good for the role he was playing. Both the story and the video were entertaining. The story was fun to read, and very suspenseful. I personally preferred the film though, since the ending to the story was quite confusing. I found it difficult to interpret what happened to Mr. Foster through the writing. All the questions I had about the story were answered in the film though. It was helpful to be able to see what their house looked like and what time they were living in. To be able to see Mrs. Foster’s reaction to the delays and antics of Mr. Foster made the experience enjoyable and interesting, and these developed the story. When I heard Mr. Foster calling out names from within the house, I immediately understood what was going on and how Mrs. Foster had killed him. It all made sense in the film, whereas some key details in the writing were very difficult to find. In fact, in the film, the director implanted a scene that I thought was really helpful to understanding the dynamics at play.
The film version shows a clip of the butler and the driver having a conversation about Mr. and Mrs. Foster. This did not appear in the story. The driver comments on how severe Mrs. Foster’s fear is and how he has noticed that Mr. Foster likes to purposefully make her late to scare her. The butler disagrees, and, despite that he must recognize Mrs. Foster’s paranoia of being late, pretends that he does not know Mr. Foster makes her late to torture her. He semi-mockingly suggests that if the driver thinks Mr. Foster would do something like that, that he should find another job. When I saw this I realized that neither Mrs. Foster nor the driver were uptight or confused, and in clashing against the chaos, they were the only sane ones. Seeing Mr. Foster at the end was really morbid. The film unlocked some elements of the story adding to the overall enjoyment: but please read the story first!
A practical joke is a trick played on someone to make them look foolish and to amuse others. This idea is explored by Guy de Maupassant in his stories, “A Normandy Joke” and “An Uncomfortable Bed.” In “A Normandy Joke,” it starts off with a wedding procession, the bridegroom being a wealthy sportsman by the name of Jean Patu and the bride who was courted by many other fellows but of course, picked “the richest farmer in the neighborhood.” During the big wedding dinner, four young fellows think of practical jokes for the newly married couple and find one so good that when one shared the idea out loud, “the whole table convulsed with laughter.” They suggested that people would poach on his land during the wedding, an idea that Jean did not like, so he challenged them. He would be proven wrong. He heard two shots as he was getting ready to get in bed, and raced out to hunt them down in a “tumultuous rage.” The next day, he would be found “two leagues from the farm, tied hand and foot, half dead with rage, his gun broken, and a placard on his chest with these words: ‘Who goes on the chase loses his place.’” It can be inferred that the four young fellows had planned this and likely fired the shots to get him all riled up, with their comments at the dinner table to get Jean more paranoid about poachers to set up the practical joke.
In “An Uncomfortable Bed,” a man whose age is described as an “old ferret” is staying with his friends for the hunting season in a chateau in Picardy. His friends are terribly fond of practical jokes and he is immediately suspicious when he steps into the “chateau,” for he is greeted by “princely reception” as they “embraced” and “cajoled” the old ferret. He also notes excessive mirth at the dinner table as if they were getting their appetizer-giggles out before the main course, and by the title, it is assumed to be an uncomfortable bed. Apparently, they needed a second appetizer as “during the entire evening, everyone laughed in an exaggerated fashion.” They even needed a third as they escorted the old ferret to his apartment and he “heard laughter and whispering in the corridor.” The old ferret inspected everything like a paranoid animal and found that “the bed was particularly suspicious-looking.” So he pulls the mattress onto the floor. Dessert is coming soon, do not worry. He is awakened by the fall of a heavy body. He “[receives] on [his] face, on [his] neck, and on [his] chest a burning liquid which made [him] utter a howl of pain. And a dreadful noise, as if a sideboard laden with plates and dishes [fell] down, [penetrates] [his] ears.” It turns out that as a consequence of his suspicion, he brought “the interlude [he] had been striving to avoid,” as a valet tripped over his bed and failed to catch himself. Dessert is the best course of a meal.