The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson was published in 1866, but it continues to invade our modern culture whether through adaptations of the whole story or just the characters of Jekyll and Hyde. One specific example would be the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which came out in 2003. This movie is a superhero film that features an assortment of fictional literary characters that are appropriate to this period such as Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, and Dr Jekyll and Hyde. These fictional literary characters act as Victorian era superheroes.
When Stevenson’s character(s) are first introduced in the movie it is in the form of Mr. Hyde. Upon first appearance you can tell he has superhuman strength by all of his bulky muscles and the way he is running from building top to building top. He has animalistic characteristics in the fact that he roars constantly. The best comparison that I can make of Mr. Hyde is to the Hulk. His physical appearance is very similar to that of the Hulk. I believe though, that this movie has overdone the physical characteristics of Mr. Hyde into something he is not.
The text says Hyde is not easy to describe. “There is something wrong with his appearance, something displeasing, something downright detestable “ (Stevenson 1783). There is also the impression given that Hyde must be deformed, but also that he is an extraordinary looking man. The only description given from the text that would give me the image of Hyde that is portrayed in this movie is when he is compared “to some damn Juggernaut” (Stevenson 1781). The footnote in our book tells us that a Juggernaut is an overwhelming, crushing force; from the Hindu god Jagnnath.
The actions of Mr. Hyde in the movie are, I believe, exaggerated as well. He comes off as a dumb creature that cannot be controlled. They have to catch him in a net to get him to come with them on their mission and when they have him on the ship he has to be put into chains. Even in the chains he keeps smashing people into the air and walls with his giant arms.
In the text Hyde is still described through Dr. Jekyll as being evil and wicked, but not like the monster he is portrayed as in the movie. In the book it seems as if Mr. Hyde is doing the bad and evil things that Dr. Jekyll can’t do. Hyde is an escape for him, a chance for him to be something opposite of what he really is. From the text, I am just not convinced that Mr. Hyde is truly an evil, monstrous person.
In the movie Dr. Jekyll is portrayed pretty similar to how he is portrayed in the text and how I imagined him to be. In the movie he was a goofy looking small man. He seems eloquent with his words, but does seem a little troubled. I guess that has to do with the fact that he is constantly changing into this alter persona that is bigger and more evil than him. The movie spent more time focusing on Mr. Hyde and the evil persona.
In the text Dr. Jekyll is very smart and strives to learn more, which is how he came upon creating his potion. He was more interested in learning about the good and bad in each person. In the text he is very naïve and allows Dr. Hyde to overcome and control him.
In the movie Dr. Jekyll changes into Hyde through the consumption of an elixir. Through parts of the movie we see the transformation of Hyde back into Jekyll and vice versa. This confirms the idea of Jekyll and Hyde being one man transforming into his horrible alter persona. But there is one moment that shows us an image of something quite the opposite. There is a scene that shows Mr. Hyde strangling Dr. Jekyll for just an instant; this gives the audience the impression that maybe these two personas are totally separate in all ways.
In the text Dr. Jekyll transforms into Hyde through a potion. The text shows Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde technically being the same person but just evolving into this alter persona once drinking the potion. There begins to come a time in the text when Dr. Jekyll will just wake up and be in the body of Mr. Hyde and he is no longer in complete control of the transformation.
There is also a scene from the movie where another character drinks a large amount of Dr. Jekyll’s elixir and he transforms into an even bigger monster with even more exaggerated characteristics. Does this mean that this character has an even eviler side that has finally been released? I believe this crazy, overdone exaggeration has been done for the audience and to entertain.
I really enjoyed reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because it allows the reader to make their different interpretation concerning the two main characters. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen I really did not enjoy watching how Mr. Hyde was portrayed because I believe it differed too much from how I read his character in the text. I believe though that this is most likely done for entertainment purposes. Overall though the movie was very interesting see all of these fictional literary characters come to life.
Norrington, Stephen, dir. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen . 20th Century Fox, 2003. Film. 2 May 2014.
Stevenson, Robert. “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Trans. Array The Longman Anthology British Literature . . 4th ed . Boston: Pearson, 2010. 1780-1817. Print.