Monday, 12 January 2009

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1931. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was made in (1931), directed by Rouben Mamoulian and has influenced and changed the horror genre. I saw the film on New Year's day, 2009 at the BFI Southbank in London. I enjoyed the film very much and it raises many issues which I will discuss. The film concentrates in detail the status of the human mind.

The film is focused on a man (Dr. Jekyll) who struggles to break free of himself and tries to find religion as a solution. He has a split personality which was the result of a failed experiment which he had regretted. The film raises issues such as repression, individual moral conflict and also the battle between good and evil. The idea of individual moral conflict is used in the majority of horror films. Werewolves for example dominate the person and the person struggles to be their true selves due to having conflict between the beast of the wolf and their true characters. In consequence we are more fearful of their actions because of the anger and hatred these people/monsters have. We are fearful of Mr. Hyde because we can empathise with Dr. Jekyll and his good intentions that are being dominated by impulses and lust.

The film does emphasise high degrees of suppression on individuals and especially when it comes to sexual issues. One scene in the film which demonstrates this was when Dr. Jekyll meets a prostitute named Ivy Pearson who he finds attractive. He later arrives as Mr. Hyde who seduces her but she finds him hideous and tries to escape from him. He ends up destroying her life and he does not get the sexual pleasure and desires that he easily wanted. The film points out constraints on individuals and barriers society creates. The film also shows the faults of meddling with science and playing with the unknown. This in consequence creates uncertainty and distress. Mr. Hyde is a character who rebels norms and values of society but in the end suffers because of this. He wants to be free in the absolute meaning which creates tensions between him and Dr. Jekyll. As an audience we like and dislike the same person and we want Mr. Hyde destroyed. One particular example in the film when he behaves in a delinquent manner was the way he talks to Ivy Pearson and the threats he imposes on her in her house. He plays mind games with her by analysing her thoughts and he then starts behaving in a barbaric and disturbing way. He physically abuses her leaving marks on her back. He later leads her onto having suicidal thoughts. Later on in the film Dr. Jekyll arrives at her door as she bursts out in tears as she is terrified. He reassures her that Mr. Hyde would never come back. This promise fails however as Mr. Hyde returns later and kills her with his uncontrollable actions.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde differ in several ways. Firstly Mr. Hyde has no sense of morals and self control. Dr. Jekyll however has these elements in his life which makes him a likeable and respectable person. Even though we like Dr. Jekyll as a character, it seems as though Mr. Hyde is the real person that he would like to be despite their differences. He is against all suppression and constraints of individuals as he challenges the ideas of the world. I have never seen a film which expresses repression of an individual so well and how repression could lead that person to behave. Clearly the film deals with the psychoanalysis of a person. I think the film reflects the true repression of individuals but the scientific experiment that Dr. Jekyll takes upon himself made it clearer and more explicitly extreme.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not only a film about conflict but also about domination of individuals. Dr. Jekyll has faith within himself that he will conquer and solve the problem of the good and evil side of people. This attitude is a religious one but he does not recognise the social effects on a person. The film also reflects attitudes towards love and hate. Dr. Jekyll has much conflict within himself because Mr. Hyde seeks to destroy and hate people rather than to care about them. The destructive nature of Mr. Hyde over powers Dr. Jekyll and he soon dominates him. Dr. Jekyll sees people in terms of individuals and characters more than the way society moulds people. This idea leads him onto believing that he can fix many problems with the whole way people function. This film is very important in reflecting the ways in which people would like to be free and the frustrations they have. Overall it is a wonderfully crafted film with a sad ending. Dr. Jekyll is in the end killed because of Mr. Hyde’s uncontrollable and animalistic behaviour. He suffers because of this and ends up shot.

The Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas is at:

Gregory's myspace profile and his blog is at:

Ham House

The CILIP in London summer outing (which I was kindly invited to) was at Ham House in Richmond on 12 August 2008. It was a really interesting day and the weather was also very sunny. It was the first time I had ever visited Richmond and it was certainly a day to remember. Richmond was very unusual for a London setting because of how natural it was and how peaceful it felt.

I learnt that the Ham House building was built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour, whose family had remained at the building up until 1948. Up to this point much restoration and renewals had taken place such as electricity and heat installation in the building. It was given to the National Trust in 1948. I found out that a ghost/ghostly presence has been reported there.

The Ham House building is very much part of our British heritage and British History. I really like Jane Austen, so was very interested to find out that Jane Austen’s 'Sense and Sensibility' had been filmed in the building. I myself had guessed beforehand, when walking up to it, and around it, that the area looked like a Jane Austen setting. During the 17th Century this kind of location was central to Europe’s fashion and power. The house has changed little since it was first built. The building also contains many paintings and old furniture which is ideal for keeping the sense of old English tradition. The paintings and furniture collections are rare and the level of light is to avoid any damage to these collections. William Murray took charge of the Ham House in 1626 and remodeled the great Hall (now the Hall gallery) where he placed paintings. He was very fond of art and architecture. William Murray joined the Civil War and unfortunately died in 1655.

Ham House has a fascinating library (which had been donated to it) which is extremely old and well preserved. It also has a complicated history. We had a chance to see the library and there was a presentation of the library which I found very interesting. The presentation involved a women showing us old books and giving us an idea of how the library was used. She said it was a ‘Gentleman’s Library’ and that the subjects in the collection represented the interests of the donor gentleman. She was very knowledgeable and obviously really enjoyed her work. There has also been an article written about the Ham House library by Mark Purcell which is named ‘The library at Ham House: National Trust Libraries 2’. It covers the period 1610-1900 and can be obtained from the British Library.

The Ham House building additionally has gardens which are extremely pretty. Amazingly the garden was one of a few formal gardens to survive the English landscape movement. It has a very pleasant and calming atmosphere which compliments the building itself. The walk from Richmond to the house, along the River Thames is beautiful and generally was very pleasant and enjoyable.

I took some photos of the Ham House gardens and along the River Thames as well and one of these pictures is on this blog.

The Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas is at:

Gregory's myspace profile and his blog is at: