Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2002)


Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde: John Hannah
Sir Danvers Carew: David Warner
Mabel Mercer: Kellie Shirley
John Utterson: Gerard Horan
Ned Chandler: Jack Blumenau
Poole: Brian Pettifer
Sarah Carew: Elodie Kendall
Dr. Arthur Lanyon: Ifan Meredith

Directed: Maurice Phillips
Written: Martyn Hesford

Summary: We see a coach in the rain. Two men rush upstairs to find a bloody dying Jekyll. One man later, by candle-light, reads Jekyll’s testiment regarding his “greed of curiosity.” He was born in 1846 and, like all of us, learned to suppress his true feelings and present a proper public image. Jekyll changes his lecture topic to original thoughts about the brain and emotions. He slices through a brain on a table in front of the crowd. Later, the hospital board declares him dangerous and turns down his request for a human guinea pig. At the clinic his colleague James wonders about Jekyll’s “chance to play God,” and insists that we are “not base, instinctive creatures.”

Sir Danvers Carew is campaigning for Parliament and bemoans the poverty and deprivation of the worst parts of the city, the prostitution and squalor. He brings a poor girl, Mabel, to Jekyll’s household to join the other servants: Mrs. Bradley, Poole, and young Ned. At a classy dinner, Jekyll holds forth regarding our two inner beings, higher and lower, struggling. He wants to separate and contain the two natures with chemicals. And he questions God. Later, Carew promises him a patient to experiment on. Medical breakthroughs would be good for his political career.

Jekyll injects a rabbit. Mabel crosses the bridge above the street to get to Jekyll’s lab. Jekyll yells at her to get out. His animals are dead, and later Mabel calls them distortions and evil. It’s raining on the “fateful morning” when animals are now just sleeping and an asylum patient, Edward Hyde, is being brought. Ned delivers a note to Jekyll saying that Hyde committed suicide, but Jekyll will pretend to be harboring the man, and Ned knows differently. Jekyll injects himself and hallucinates. He wakes with his hat and cane.

At a dance, Carew’s daughter Sarah is interested in Jekyll, but Jekyll thinks James is more interested in her. The servants notice that Mabel sneaks off into the night regularly. An insolent Ned questions Jekyll about Hyde, but Jekyll injects himself again and has a dream-vision of seeing himself in dilapidated circumstances, the “Hyde” self circling the Jekyll self. He visits fistfights and a whorehouse and wakes up numb but somehow vaguely elated. Ned sneers at him and helps himself to some money. The other servants blame recent household thefts not on Ned but on Mabel, who defends herself and sees Ned smoking and relaxing. Jekyll/Hyde sends Sarah a note to meet him at night. While Mabel visits a desperate woman (whom we suspect is her mother), Hyde presses the thorns of a rose into the palm of Sarah and begins talking about his “lusts.” He grows violent with Sarah, hitting her and attacking her sexually.

Jekyll speaks with Mabel, who confesses she does have a living mother. Carew reports to Jekyll that his daughter was attacked and is hysterical. He is covering this up to protect his career from scandal, since she was responding to a rendez-vous note in the first place. Jekyll knows he has stepped over a boundary, but he continues his experiments to try to control the effects of the drug. Ned sneers about the waste of food being brought to a non-existent Hyde, and he demands more money. Jekyll injects, and while Ned is agreeing to their “mutual protection,” Hyde grabs him by the throat and holds him over the edge of the bridge briefly.

Jekyll admits to himself that he has no shame now and is addicted to new pleasures. His coach runs down a girl in the street, and he holds her up and throws her. “She’s worthless.” A mob pursues him until he yells, “What have I done?” and sacrifices his wallet, at which point they behave like swine at a trough. Later, after Jekyll has reported the latter part of the incident, Sir Danvers calls the people “peasants.” They should all be flogged. Mrs. Carew asks Jekyll to examine their daughter, and so the terrorized girl awakens to the same nightmarish looming Hyde face.

Jekyll sees himself throttling the girl, and Hyde tells him(self), “I live in your soul, like a caged bird, except the door is open.” Jekyll continues having hallucinations. He wants Ned to witness what happens when he takes the drug, but Ned wants now to leave Jekyll’s employ: he won’t tell what he knows. Jekyll takes the drug and later awakens, having butchered Ned. He buries the pieces of the body in the night, and prays. Mabel tells him he is not evil, though she has no power to forgive; she believes in God. Everything can be forgiven, with love. “Then I’m truly damned,” says Jekyll, who spends some time in church but concludes, “I feel nothing.”

Carew has found the letter from Jekyll asking to meet with Sarah in the night. He confronts Jekyll and says he looks “like a laudenum addict.” Jekyll has been seen around town by important influential people. Jekyll asks what these people have been doing around town too, and threatens to name the “accusers.” Carew wants nothing more to do with Jekyll. In the mirror, Hyde confronts Jekyll: “You love me. I am your own creation.” Jekyll continues trying to refine the experiments, having Mabel now supply the substances instead of Ned. She visits her mother and finds her beaten, with Hyde’s cane nearby. Mabel discreetly returns the cane to Jekyll. Jekyll admits to himself about Hyde, “I am in awe of him” — his fear of nothing and need of no one. Sir Danvers is out walking when Hyde comes upon him, sneering at him perhaps visiting “fallen women.” Hyde forces him to kneel, and Carew recognizes Jekyll. But the response is, “I’m Hyde.” Carew is to crawl, but soon Hyde beats him to death with the stick, which he leaves at the scene.

Utterson bursts past Poole to see Jekyll, who is reading the headline. “Your father’s cane” was found, and Utterson does not suspect Jekyll of the murder but thinks Jekyll knows the culprit. “He’s betrayed your trust.” Jekyll says he helped Hyde escape and Hyde is gone forever. Mabel overhears and is upset that Jekyll insists he had “no choice.” Jekyll wrecks his lab, flings papers, and creates a bonfire, but the servants notice that he is haunted. Mabel reports to her mother that Hyde is gone. Mom says she knew Sir Danvers and that it was no coincidence that he selected Mabel herself to place in employment. So Sarah is Mabel’s privileged half-sister.

The servants hear Jekyll shouting. “Who’s he talking to?” “Himself.” Mabel answers Jekyll’s call for help. In the discussion with himself, Hyde asks, “The mind controls the body, but who controls the mind?” Jekyll tells Mabel that Hyde is a parasite devouring him. He thinks of poisoning him, “the lethal side of man.” Jekyll feels he is “beyond help.” Mabel reassures him, “You’re a man who’s lost his way.” Jekyll takes some desperate comfort in this, and takes her hand. But Hyde bursts through a mirror, grabs a carving knife from the roast, and slits Mabel’s throat. Jekyll drops the knife. Mabel is dead. He smears her blood on the wall. Poole fetches Utterson, and their coach races through the streets as we realize this is what we saw at the start of the film. Jekyll ingests some powder. Poole and Utterson see “Love” smeared in blood on the wall as Jekyll struggles with Hyde, Hyde tending to eat the text Jekyll tries to write. “Oh God, let me wake in a different world.” In a bloody panting blur, Jekyll gasps, “I repent.” He is near death when Poole and Utterson break in. “My soul is released.” Utterson later reads Jekyll’s testiment by candle-light. “May God have mercy on him.” In church, sacred music plays. We zero in on Jekyll in his coffin.

Commentary: It’s the most harrowing and therefore I think the most effective Jekyll/Hyde film I’ve seen.

Jekyll and Hyde Films