Lost in Adaptation
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, is an idea that has been frequently adapted to visual media. You have the story of a man who through the power of a potion has his repressed side manifest as an entirely new personality(Damrosch). When speaking to describe Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll’s other half, it is said “there is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable” and that “he must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity” (Damrosch 1783). So within their description of Mr. Hyde they only describe him as being different and slightly deformed, and nothing else. He is just a regular man, so why has he developed into more of a monster in the adaptation of his character.
In the comic series, “A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, Dr. Jekyll is presented as the same inhibited doctor as he was in the original story. However, Mr. Hyde is portrayed as a hulking monster at more than ten feet tall. And as such, his transformation is a lot
more violent. Within the series, it is stated that the reason for it is that Dr. Jekyll is getting weaker from the internal conflict Mr. Hyde grows stronger. And the more Dr. Jekyll struggles, the bigger Mr. Hyde grows(Moore). Something here that is interesting is that Hyde is made into more of a sympathetic character than in other portrayals.
While some attempt to explain the difference in appearance from the source material in creative and compelling ways, others offer none. In the movie Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman as the titular character, Mr. Hyde makes a grand appearance. In this appearance he is shown to be bigger than even the Alan Moore interpretation. And unlike the source where Hyde is a representation of a more repressed nature of Jekyll, this version doesn’t seem to represent that. And his crimes go beyond murder and go into cannibal territory(Sommers).
The biggest question you could ask is why such a big departure from a character would become the most popular and well known thought that comes to mind when thinking of Hyde? In his original portrayal, Hyde represented the side of Jekyll he pushed down and out of the way. In the adaptations I’ve mentioned, the characters become pure monster seemingly showing inner darkness instead of a release that is present in the original story. The concepts put out in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will be used again and again, but the character of
Mr. Hyde will continue to step away from his original presentation into a much bigger and darker character.
Darth Bruce. “Van Helsing Promotional Shot.” Photograph. Villains Wiki. Wikipedia.com, 13 January 2010. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.
Moore, Alan, and Kevin O’Neill. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. La Jolla, CA: America’s Best Comics, 2000. Print.
Ottens. “League of Extraordinary Volume II Cover.” Photograph. Wikipedia. Wikipedia.com, 28 April 2006. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.
Stevenson, Robert L. “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 4th ed. Damrosch, David, and Kevin J.H. Dettmar. New York: Pearson Education Inc., 2010. 1780-1818. Print.
Van Helsing. Dir. Stephen Sommers. Perf. Hugh Jackman. Universal, 2004. DVD.