Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This summer, I’ve taken to reading a lot of slightly older, darker books. I finished reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (by Robert Louis Stevenson) a couple of weeks ago. It was wonderful, but had a really sad ending. The premise is that if a person could separate their personality into two separate identities, the world could be better. Dr. Jekyll tries this, and his world breaks down into chaos. I won’t tell the ending for people who hate spoilers.

A local college was doing a production of the musical Jekyll and Hyde. It was a perfect opportunity to have read the book before seeing other versions. The day before we saw the musical, though, we decided to watch the 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movie. It’s a silent film with John Barrymore, and it is really good in the special effects area, considering the time it was made it. I was overjoyed when I found out that Mr. Hyde was short in the movie like he was in the book. The movie followed the book pretty well, with very small deviations. One of the deviations was in the ending, so I won’t tell that one (you’ll have to read and watch them for yourself). The movie did a nice job of wrapping up where the book leaves you on a cliffhanger. Both endings are wonderful, though. There was also a comedic version of the movie, a silent 20-minute short film called Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde with Stan Laurel from Laurel & Hardy, a comedy duo. It’s one of those things that one can’t explain well enough to get the humor across, but they did a good job of making a serious movie into a comedic summary.

Finally, the musical. Music sure does lengthen the time it takes to tell a story, but it was great music. I normally couldn’t stand musicals, but this year that has been changing a bit. My favorite song was “Alive,” mainly because of the range of notes (which I wouldn’t in a million years be able to reach, but they were beautifully done). The music in general was amazing, and the you could see the conductor and band backstage were having a lot of fun. The actors were amazing, too. The play was closer to the movie with more deviations from the book. It gave a little bit more backstory than the book did. The biggest difference from the book in my opinion was that a different person was killed. More people, actually, were killed in the musical than in the book or the movie (eight people people total in the musical). The musical used the almost the tallest person for Dr. Jekyll, meaning they could make him hunch over to be Mr. Hyde so he could still be short. I don’t know why that’s so important to me, but a lot of monster characters are often displayed as fairly tall beings, and to have a shorter monster character seemed to be something that needed to be kept.

I really would love to be in a version of Jekyll and Hyde when I get older. I kind of hope the college does it again when I can actually audition.

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