Saturday, January 08, 2005

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Watched the 1920 silent-film version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" starring John Barrymore who plays both. An excellent film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella. (I also re-read Stevenson's "Treasure Island" recently).

Watching the film was a welcome respite from all the explosions, car-chases, and high-tech special effects that can leave one dazed and confused. The underlying theme of the movie is exploring the fine line between the divine and diabolical, saint and sinner, friend and foe that lie within and the continual conflict between the two. (I've written two chapters in my book, "Psychology of the Hero Soul" which explores both these hero-villain sides of human nature).

David Pierce's 1997 review of the film is bang-on: "Jekyll speculates on the advantage of separating the two natures of man in different bodies- one could "yield to every evil impulse, yet leave the soul untouched." Jekyll's scientific passion leads him to a formula that brings out his other side, Mr. Hyde, a man without a conscience."

It's a troubling film, because I feel 'scientific passions' without a moral compass or conscience can lead to some horrible monstrosities, as this film so visually depicts - in black and white.


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