Countless adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” have graced the big screen since the novel’s introduction in 1886. Isn’t it finally time one of them approached the material from a new direction?
Specifically, and perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, Del Toro wants to flip the pertinent question of the narrative – from “What does this monster, this manifestation of subconscious desire, take from Jekyll?” to “What is it that Hyde gives to him?”
“If you tell the story fully, you can not only see it as a story of repression, of the build-up of repression until it manifests itself like a monster,” Del Toro explained. “I think that Hyde -- yes, he’s a creature of subterranean desire and all that -- but it’s more than that. He’s an addiction.”
Indeed, in the original narrative, Dr. Jekyll isn’t the wimpy push-over he’s so often portrayed as, but a charismatic doctor, forceful and proud -- who covers up a shameful and secret life of cruelty. Could it be that Jekyll actually likes turning into Hyde?
“In every story of addiction, people seem to [underestimate] what the addiction does to the person,” Del Toro continued. “And what does Hyde give Jekyll that is so powerful? That can be explored.”
And explored in the time period Stevenson originally intended, Del Toro insisted, citing the period’s rich hypocrisy between private lust and public decorum as too ripe to update.
“My interest is to do a series of Victorian horror movies, because it’s part of the heritage that was getting lost. The more the merrier,” Del Toro said, also referencing his “Frankenstein” project. “That is ripe for a new exploration of the social, psycho-sexual stuff that makes the horror tick in that period.”
What do you think? Is Del Toro onto something with this? That Jekyll gets something positive from Hyde? Would you want to see this as his first post-“Hobbit” project? Sound off on all your thoughts below.