Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

28 Mar

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I feel obliged to start this new post with an apology, because I skipped blogging for a few weeks. So here it goes: “Sorry I have not wrote a thing since February, I am still at University and had to prioritize my studies, but Spring Break is here so I am back.” To avoid this in the future I decided to make a blog time table, so you guys will get new posts every Thursday and Sunday. Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get back to movies.
After reading Dracula, I continued on the line of gothic monsters and their adaptation to film, so this week I decided to talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). This is the first adaptation for the screen of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). This is an American film, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, starring Fredric March as Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde, role that will earn him his first Academy Award.

Both the film and the book made me feel like I was being attacked by an arsenal of Freudian theories. The film especially, starting even from the first scenes, in which we are shown Jekyll lecturing at the University about issues concerning the self. I was like, just give him a beard and a pair of glasses, and you are done with it. After that it goes on about the repressed self, showing Jekyll as the Son figure who desires his fiancée, Muriel Carew (Rose Hobart), but he is stopped from fulfilling his wishes by the Father figure, General Sir Danvers Carew (Halliwell Hobbes). Like a child who wishes to fulfil all its needs and escape punishment, Jekyll creates a potion, which brings out the evil side of the human self, and names him Hyde. The film also re-enacts the Madonna-Whore Complex by presenting the character of Muriel as the virginal figure and that of the bar singer, Ivy Pearson (Miriam Hopkins) as the whore figure. Because of its open sexuality and loss morality, the whore figure is destroyed in the end by the monstrous Hyde. What I found interesting is that in the novel, these female characters are missing and there is a constant male dominance concerning the plot.

The story is presented from Mr. Gabriel John Utterson’s point of view, which is Jekyll’s friend and lawyer, and he analyses the mysterious character of Mr. Hyde, especially after Hyde murders Sir Danvers Carew, action which happens at the ending in the film. Also the character of Sir Danvers Carew gains more importance in the movie than it has in the novel, and Mr. Utterson’s character is completely erased from the film. I found the script of the film quite well written and helps to point out the Freudian theories, and if Nosferatu was a silent film, this one, is one of the first to have sound. The acting gets better, not so exaggerated as the ones from the silent era, and the special effects are hilarious. I found the character of Hyde quite funny looking, just as the novel describes him, like an ape. What did you guys thought of it? What is your favourite adaptation of the novel? Please Comment and let me know.

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