When The Movies Reject The Book’s Twist Ending

A production still from the 1920 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Hyde chocking a man

I would say spoiler alert, but it seems that every version of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde has already done that for me. Being a huge fan of the book, I have been disappointed to see that no film has correctly followed the text. The reason that this happens is that Dr. Jekyll is made to be the main character of the films and not the true main character from the book, his close friend and lawyer Gabriel John Utterson. Utterson in the book is investigating the strange events surrounding Jekyll. Instead, filmmakers have thus far created a film that gives away the twist ending of Jekyll becoming Mr. Hyde through a chemical experiment.

In the 1920 film, Dr. Jekyll is to be married, but suffers from temptations for other women. Because he feels the need to be perfect among his pears, Dr. Jekyll invents a potion that will separate his good half from his evil half. Transforming into an ugly hunched over man who’s personality reflects his image, Jekyll finds that he has a new identity and calls himself Mr. Hyde. Returning to the woman he finds attractive, he sleeps with her and casts her out the next day. His temptation now gone, for the moment, he returns to his lab to take another potion and return to the image of Dr. Jekyll. Hyde begins to consume Jekyll and Jekyll becomes unable to suppress Hyde as Hyde grows more violent.

The film itself deviates from the book in several ways and almost appears to be an original piece. The theme seems to be more about the morality of suppressing a temptation and the consequences of not facing it head on with the help of others.

An interesting goof in the film is that when Hyde is transforming back into Jekyll, the actor’s prosthetic finger goes flying off.

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