Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2002)

DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE (2002)

Notes: Redfield Arts, Inc. 110 minutes.
Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde: Mark Redfield
Claire Caine: Elena Torrez
Also starring: Kosha Engler, Carl Randolph.

Directed: Mark Redfield
Written and Produced: Mark Redfield and Stuart Voytilla
Special Make-Up Effects: Robert Yoho

Summary: The opening of the film sticks, for a change, with the book’s featuring of Lanyan and Utterson, so why it’s set in the London of “1900” instead of earlier is a temporary mystery, solved when we see Jekyll working at the hospital with various amplifications to the Stevenson story and particularly his purchase of new filming equipment from the Lumieres.

Jekyll, back at home, sees a new patient — Claire Caine, a prostitute referred to Jekyll by Annie, another prostitute — and pays off his low-life supplier of dead women’s livers and kidneys: Mr. Little and his assistant Cobby. Meanwhile, the Carews await Jekyll’s arrival at dinner: “It’s half past nine and we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of the man.” Jekyll is engaged to Miriam Carew. Her father, Sir Danvers, is senile, and her brother Mordecai is a controlling jackass. Jekyll arrives when the gathering has already dispersed, and Mordecai insists that Miriam does not wish to see him again.

Jack Little, the innards supplier, is the pimp for Annie and Claire. Hyde wishes to spend time with the latter, while Mordecai tells his sister that Jekyll has another romance. The brother/sister relationship is a little too close: Carpenters close. But Miriam forces Mordecai to speak to Jekyll on her behalf. Jekyll, as Hyde, demands a vow of loyalty from his whore, Claire. He’s going away for some time.

Mordecai asks Hyde for directions to Jekyll’s place. Hyde beats him to death with a cane, oh and with some kicking too. We, the audience, rejoice. The investigation afterwards focuses on Jekyll’s broken cane given to him from the SBH (some hospital). Utterson says Hyde has Jekyll in a “stranglehold of power.” Miriam writes a long grieving letter and takes a dive off her balcony to her death.

At Claire’s apartment, Annie is visiting Claire when Jack also pays a call. He brings liquor and two glasses, but is driven away by Claire. Hyde returns and notices the two glasses, but Jack enters with a gun, foolishly allowing Hyde a final drink before his intended shooting. Hyde poisons Jack, who goes grey and turns respectable and kindly. Hyde reminds him of his organ-gathering and shoots him in the head. He shoots repeatedly, until the gun backfires and blows off part of one of Hyde’s fingers. Claire whacks him one.

After his daughter’s funeral, Sir Danvers Carew leaves Lanyan and Utterson to discuss the missing Jekyll, whose absence is a loss to the hospital and to science. More Jack the Ripper allusions lead to a declaration that Hyde is “aptly named.” An inspector sneers that “that Conan Doyle fellow” has given a bad reputation to Scotland Yard.

Past a “God is watching” sign misplaced from The Great Gatsby, hospital assistant Parker tries to get past Mr. Chang since Jekyll has written orders to bring a box to Hyde. While Claire seeks Annie and Utterson shows others a handwriting discovery, Hyde transforms to Jekyll in front of Parker. But the drug is now in his blood, whatever that means, and unwanted transformation back to Hyde takes place.

Barricaded in his laboratory, Hyde claims to Utterson, the inspector, and others outside that he has killed Jekyll. After some attacks and shootings back and forth, Jekyll/Hyde asks for Claire’s forgiveness. He wraps himself in chains and hangs himself. Poole gets the power back on, triggering Jekyll’s film of himself transforming into Hyde. The film ends with a quotation from Deuteronomy 32:39.

Commentary: Redfield is a compelling Hyde, and the film does manage to weave together the best from the book and from the various film and especially theatrical manifestations of the story from throughout the decades. We get a little more Stevenson than is customarily the case. From the film versions we get the fiancée and family connections played off the realm of prostitution.

Some might be exasperated with this other set of borrowings, but the film also tries to capitalize on features of Frankenstein. “I’ll be with himon his wedding night,” says Hyde ominously about Jekyll. In Jekyll’s laboratory is the Frankensteinian aglomeration of bubbling scientific pariphernalia. Jekyll even has a trap door in his lab’s ceiling which he uses to effect a hasty exit, but the image of the Frankenstein monster slowly ascending through an identical structure is emblazoned on our monster-loving minds.

Jekyll and Hyde Films