Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are names iconic to both literature and film fans. But before Jekyll is seen in 2017’s “The Mummy,” UMU takes a look at the character and a real life Strange Case.
When two people disagree on a subject it’s common understanding that they will either part ways on the matter by agreeing to disagree or they will meet at a compromise. Sometimes, unfortunately, the disagreeing parties refuse to meet in the middle and further fighting ensues, but even if that, the two can leave each other’s presence and go for a walk to cool off. But what does one do when the disagreeing party is one and the same?
Written in 1886 by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” tells the story of an English lawyer attempting to unravel the incidents of the two aforementioned characters. Gabriel John, the London based lawyer is friends with the Dr, Henry Jekyll and, of course, Mr. Hyde comes into play.
Over the years there have been many re-tellings of the story, some of which are better than others. Some readers of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” believe that there is no such thing as two separate people, but rather two distinct personalities that live within the same person; others believe the transformation is physical not only mental. Whichever version you believe, the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson still resonates with us. Having a side to us that is the polar opposite of who we allow people to see is our own version of the character.
I can remember many times where I “acted out of character”. Doing things that if people were to see me doing them they would write me off immediately, but I must question, who among us has not said or acted in such a way that it looks as if we are two different people? Whether it is due to sexual behavior or violence or close-mindedness or jealousy it is only human to slide away from who we are normally. Why is it almost exclusively negative actions that resonate with the character? Yes the story does involve torture but can’t we do things that are the opposite of our normal selves because they’re positive?
Think of high school. There was always the popular kid, the stuck up kid, the pretty girl, the weird kid, the smart one and so on. While it may have been infrequent, sometimes the weird one would score a date or a dance with the pretty girl (if only because they wanted to make the weird kid feel good about themselves). Couldn’t one say that that is out of the norm? For the given person, in that very moment, isn’t that a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moment? And it does not involve violence or sexual depravity. The pendulum swings both ways.
Traditionally “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” involves our doctor creating and drinking a potion that was meant to enable people to act without guilt, unleashing their inner demons. Now we must understand that in the 19th century things that we consider to be fine today were of moral bankruptcy at the time. “Reality” shows like Jersey Shore are notorious for displaying drunkenness, sexual depravity, lewd and indecent behavior and fighting all of which would be considered terrible behavior, as it is. Today it is entertainment for some and a total waste of time for others, but it goes to show that what is normal for one is not always normal for a society.
In keeping with the potion we cannot discuss people acting out abnormally without thinking of the real life zombie that attacked a homeless man in Florida. It was May 26, 2012 when a bloody and nightmarish attack took place in Miami, Florida. Rudy Eugene not only attacked homeless man Ronald Poppo, but proceeded to consume his flesh. The cannibal, who was seen as a real life zombie, ate pieces of Ronald’s face in broad daylight on a causeway, only stopping when police arrived and shot him. Some say he was cursed and their were others that said he was on drugs, but if the latter is true, wouldn’t whatever drug, (bath salts were blamed), be an equivalent to the potion that Dr. Jekyll created? What was in that drug? Was it a hallucinogen? Or was it mental illness?
Disassociate identity disorder as defined by Webmd is, “characterized by the presence of two or more distinct or split identities or personality states that continually have power over the person’s behavior.” Sounds like a real life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sans potion. The article further explains the disorder as having an “inability to recall key personal information that is too far-reaching to be explained as mere forgetfulness.”
As if that weren’t a enough, the website tells us that each personality is accompanied with its own gestures, age, race, sex and way of talking. People with this disorder really do become completely different people “switching” back and forth. This illness is fairly complex and has branches, but overall people living with this disorder can experience “depression, mood swings, suicidal tendencies, sleep disorders, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, compulsions and rituals and psychotic-like symptoms including auditory and visual hallucinations,” all according to the article on Webmd.
Living with this condition seems like a nightmare, but with proper treatment those with it can lead productive and successful lives. I personally do not want to know what that is like, but I offer my understanding to those with the condition and wish them the best in their endeavors. Perhaps one day there will be a cure.
Luckily for most of us the only experience that we’ll have with the heightened disorder will be from the 1931 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde released by Paramount Pictures. With the talents of Fredric Hand and directed by Rouben Mamoulian this is one of those old school classics that is synonymous with The Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The good ol’ days where monsters were still relatable.
Universal is rebooting their “Monsters Universe” and The Mummy will co-star world renowned talent of Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll. Could we see a newer fresher take on the film sometime after The Mummy? From 1931 to 1941 to 2017+ we have seen many different versions of this beloved character and I look forward to seeing how Mr. Crowe will portray Mr. Hyde.
As we wait for the film’s release, try not to drink any peculiar potions handed to you from any doctors or else you may find yourself transforming into a guilt free monster!
(Matt Ramos – @SuperSerumCOMIX)