alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Kestrell and I just watched Beat the Devil (1953). It starts as a caper film, but quickly takes a left turn into comedy. It is sometimes described as a parody of The Maltese Falcon, but isn’t really. It does feature Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre, with Robert Morley doing his best Sidney Greenstreet imitation, but the plots aren’t what I would call related.

Bogart is working with a team of four international criminals who, as Kes observed, take the usual “pair of incompetent Shakespearean hitmen” and square the problem. The already significant paranoia of the criminals is raised to a high pitch when they encounter a delightful English woman (Jennifer Jones) with a habit for confabulation. Kes thinks that she is the grown-up version of the niece from Saki’s short story “The Open Window” :-)

Kestrell also pointed out that much of the confusion in the film comes from the various characters assuming that Humphrey Bogart’s character is, well, a typical Humphrey Bogart character. In this film, he’s much more of a “go along to get along” kind of guy, but people keep expecting him to be doublecrossing and seducing.

Hmmm, this seems to be more Kestrell’s review than mine. Oh well, I can the state on my own behalf that I greatly enjoyed it. Recommended.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
A few days ago, [livejournal.com profile] kestrell decided that she was finally up for watching The Night of the Hunter (1955), so we did so. I am happy to report that she liked it about as much as I do. In fact, I like it better on a second viewing than I did on the first. So, though I wrote about it then, I find I have more to say now.

It’s probably Robert Mitchum’s greatest performance, and it was certainly Charles Laughton’s greatest directorial job – okay, okay, it was his ONLY directorial job, but it would’ve been an extreme high point for even a lifelong directorial career. For all that, when released it was a commercial and critical failure. Why? One answer is that the studio failed to give it much marketing push. But that’s just one symptom of what I think is the underlying problem: the film has no interest in sticking to a genre formula. You could call it a Crime Drama – but there is very little of either crime or punishment actually shown. You could call it Horror – but there is no blood and no cat-scares. You could call it Americana – if you could overlook all the tributes to German Expressionism. So much of the emotional tone is carried by characters singing that you could call it a Musical, except that it clearly isn’t THAT. Many reviewers use the phrase Fairy Tale, which isn’t 100% wrong, though certainly not how it was marketed. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to name one single genre that this movie is, I’d say Children’s Movie…

Yes, Children’s Movie. Easily 90% of the movie is through the viewpoint of one child or another. The film’s thematic concerns are largely about how marginalized people cope with the existence of powerful oppressors – with the ultimate examples being children and adults. Its message, both shown and told, is that though they are oppressed, children yet have power that adults lack. Of course, that’s not a message that most parents are really gonna be happy with…

I suppose you could make a good argument that the genre here is Suspense; the film certainly contains a great deal of that quality. But there is very little Mystery in it. You know almost before he appears on-screen that Robert Mitchum is a serial killer. There is a hidden MacGuffin, but it’s only hidden for about half an hour, and revealed almost offhandedly. On first viewing, I thought that an odd and clumsy directorial choice, but since then I’ve changed my mind. I think Laughton hides MacGuffin, not to create mystery, but to properly PACE his suspense. If we knew the location of the MacGuffin too early, we would worry about it being accidentally uncovered during scenes in which Laughton wants us concentrating on other matters.

This is far from the only such example. Laughton’s storytelling is extremely straightforward on the surface, but deceptively complex beneath. The basic point of every scene and character would be immediately clear to a typical eight-year-old*. But re-watching, with an eye towards the storytelling mechanics, you can see how almost every scene in the first half is doing at least double duty and often more; helping reinforce or foreshadow plot traits and characteristics that will be important later in the film.
(* The one exception is, tellingly, a scene where the young boy viewpoint character has just been woken from a sound sleep in unknown and threatening circumstances.)

The movie also has a fascinating relationship with religion. On the one hand, Robert Mitchum is a preacher who is also a serial killer. Late in the film, the “good Christian people” whom he has preached to become a vicious mob, howling for his blood – arguably, embracing religion the same way that he always has. So you might think this movie was opposed to religion. But then, you have Lillian Gish’s character, an ACTUAL good Christian: an old woman who takes in and cares for unfortunate orphans, and reads Bible stories to them. She would be treacly – if she wasn’t also a terrifying crone! And yet, beneath her hardened exterior, she has a true understanding of Charity. At one point, she sees a pair of young lovers canoodling in the marketplace. (Pause while I look up the quote…) “She'll be losing her mind to a tricky mouth and a full moon, and like as not, I'll be saddled with the consequences.” On the one hand, she clearly disapproves, but on the other, she IS willing to be “saddled with the consequences”. Indeed, she has already proven so: at least one of her “wards” has a loving mother who works near that marketplace – by implication, a single mother who is unable to care for her own child by herself. A little later in the film, Gish surprises us again with her reaction(s) to one of her girls having gotten in trouble (another of those scenes where the eight-year-olds are probably going to miss some of the complexities).

Despite the top level of the film being (or at least seeming) completely straightforward, it’s full of surprises. Not surprises of plot, but of image, or moments of character. Things I had never seen before, nor even realized that I might see. I’m very glad I did, though. Very Highly Recommended.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Recently, Kestrell and I watched a related pair of movies: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) and the film it is a remake of, Bedtime Story (1964). The comparison was FASCINATING.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has been a favorite of mine since I first saw it in its original theatrical run. Michael Caine and Steve Martin play a pair of con men who cross paths, compete, cooperate, and then compete harder. Glenne Headley enters the film about halfway through as the ingénue that they compete over. Barbara Harris has a small but delightful part as a mark early in the film.

When I first saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, I wondered if it was a remake of an earlier film (in those pre-Internet days, it was nontrivial to find out). Though my film knowledge was not encyclopedic, I had seen enough movies starring David Niven to recognize that Michael Caine was obviously imitating him in his performance. And, indeed, the original movie, Bedtime Story, did turn out to star David Niven. What I was NOT expecting, was that Steve Martin’s performance turned out to be significantly informed by that of – Marlon Brando! As near as I can tell, Frank Oz (director of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) made a deliberate choice to “keep everything that worked” from Bedtime Story when remaking it. It’s pretty clear that both leads studied the performances of the original actors.

This attitude of “keep what worked” applied on a script level as well. Something like 50% of the dialogue is VERBATIM the same, and even where it isn’t, the majority of the action is the same. Sometimes this goes so far as to use the same staging and camera angles.

I don’t want to give the impression that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a carbon copy. Indeed, I would say that it is a MUCH better movie. Not that Bedtime Story is bad, but the remake improves it in almost every way. What’s fascinating is that the degree of similarity is close enough that you can see lots of places where Bedtime Story COULD have gotten a laugh (or a bigger laugh) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels DID. You could use these two films as a master class in film comedy – and the art of the remake.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Major[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I recently re-watched Bell Book and Candle (1958). It’s a mostly fun, if problematic, romantic comedy with Jimmy Stewart essentially playing Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak playing a sophisticated modern day witch who casts a spell on him. Also a great supporting cast, including Jack Lemmon (on the bongos!), Elsa Lanchester, Ernie Kovacs, and Hermione Gingold.

The major problematic aspect is that, by the rules of this movie, witches are literally “not human” and are incapable of love. If a witch does fall in love, then she loses all her witch powers and “becomes human”. Naturally, lots of Wiccans and Wiccan-friendly people take offense at this. The offensiveness actually gets worse, in my mind anyways, once you realize that “witch” is a wafer thin metaphor for “homosexual”. Though I admit it does lead to some very funny moments, such as when Ernie Kovacs (playing an alleged expert on magic) confidently tells a room full of closeted witches that he can “just tell” if someone is actually a witch.

As we watched, I often felt myself strongly reminded of another movie which on the surface looks very different, but actually isn’t: Chasing Amy (1997). Both of them are about a straight white guy who has troubles with his romantic relationship, because she’s queer. They even both feature scenes where the woman loses support from her queer community due to her new relationship.

Of course, the endings are quite different. In 1958 Hollywood, the only possible “happy ending” to such a story is for the queer woman to become a normal straight woman. Chasing Amy has a more honest ending: the relationship ends up failing because the straight white guy, despite having a somewhat-raised consciousness, is fundamentally unable to cope with someone so outside his experience.

I do like both movies. But they do make me long for more stories that show the possibility of happy relationships between two people who celebrate their differences. Season two of Sense8 can’t come soon enough!
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I recently watched a pair of interesting movies, both of which fall roughly under the category of film noir, though each with its own interesting unique properties.

The Big Clock (1948) is a classic noir story of a man who, through a series of what seem like innocuous bad decisions, ends up in danger of losing his marriage, his job, and his life – not necessarily in that order. The tension builds beautifully, as the protagonist is forced to draw the net tighter and tighter on himself.

That tension is beautifully counter pointed by moments of screwball humor. Elsa Lanchester appears in a supporting role which initially appears to be one scene and one note, but her character keeps showing up, adding new layers and stealing scenes shamelessly and hilariously. She even gets the last line of the movie, indicating how, though things veered close to Shakespearean tragedy, we arrived finally at a happy ending.

Also of note in in the supporting cast is Harry Morgan, who normally plays such nice characters. Here, he scared the crap out of us, despite – or perhaps because of – not having any dialogue. He mostly just stands around being menacing, very effectively. It was quite some time, actually, before I figured out what his approximate role was; the other characters see him, but don’t talk about him. (The film overall does a fine job of avoiding “as you know, Bob”; there is – and needs to be – a goodly amount of exposition, but it is delivered very deftly.

The Big Clock also has strong elements of satire, specifically of the publishing industry. Kes thought that the heavy (Charles Laughton) was a thinly veiled William Randolph Hearst, but some post movie research showed that it was specifically targeting Henry Luce, publisher of Time Magazine.

Mystery Street (1950) was an interesting companion piece. It stars Ricardo Montalban as a Latino Police Lieutenant (!) working on a murder case. This may well be the first example of what we would now call a forensics police procedural – though apparently they haven’t yet invented the word “forensics”. Montalban and his partner spend an amusing scene wandering around Harvard University, looking for the department of “Legal Medicine”. Oh yes, this one is also set in Boston, so has some local interest.

The movie does an excellent job of indicating just how vast an amount of work goes into solving a murder, in both the traditional ways, and using the new “Harvard” methods – but does so in a way that doesn’t actually take much screen time, so the pacing zips along.

Coincidentally, Mystery Street *also* has Elsa Lanchester in a supporting role. Not quite as delightful a role as in The Big Clock, but still very good. She’s a great actress and always fun to watch.

Mystery Street has a lot of subtext (and sometimes outright text) about social divisions, and the effects of class, race, and gender on how people survive.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Kestrell and I recently watched "Alex and Emma", a romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner. We enjoyed it, and I wanted to recommend it to a wider audience based on three factors:
1) Much of the location filming was done in Boston, with recognizable landmarks.
2) It's a meta-story, with a bunch of interesting material about the process of creativity.
3) It's loosely based on Dostoyevsky. No, not a *novel* by Dostoevsky, but actually based on his life, which turns out to have had some sigmonificant romantic comedy elements.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Kestrell and I recently watched "All Through The Night", a comedy-drama with gangsters versus Nazi spies, released mere weeks before Pearl Harbor. It's not the *first* movie I've seen that had the trope "We may be crooks, but we're *American* crooks!" … But I wonder whether or not it's the *earliest* appearance of that trope.

Anyone have other examples? I know I've seen this before, but it's apparently not common enough to get a TVtropes entry.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
I think Peter Lorre <i>would</i> make a great Abe Sapien :-)



More such images to be found at http://comicsalliance.com/joe-phillips-silver-screen-heroes/
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Bowfinger (1999), Steve Martin, Eddie Murray. Another in the micro-genre of “Movies about making movies, and the beautiful lies that are Hollywood”. On a cynicism scale where The Wizard of Speed and Time is a 1, and The Player is a 10, I’d put this at about a 3. Lots of fun, with a happy ending that is ludicrous in the very best way.

A Field in England (2013). Rival alchemists search for treasure during the English Civil War. Only that’s not really a useful description. As Kestrell put it, “It’s like Waiting for Godot, as if Ken Russell had directed it.” I can’t really *recommend* it, but it makes me happy that such strange concoctions can exist.

The Eclipse (2009). Set at an Irish literary convention, this movie is mostly a slow, melancholy story about various ways of coping with loss. Except for the occasional extreme jump scare with zombie-like ghosts. An odd admixture, but it worked.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] kestrell, [livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo and I watched The Addiction (1995). It's a vampire movie, but quite a different one. It focuses on a young woman studying for her Doctorate in Philosophy at NYU. Her studies are interrupted when, walking home one night, she gets bitten and (she slowly realizes) Turned. She then applies her philosophical learning to the problem of coping with her new state of being, with... mixed results.

It's a black & white film, so there isn't much visual gore. There *is* some quite disturbing violence, but the impact comes from context and emotions more than raw imagery.

Vampires are, for once, *not* a metaphor for sex, but for the human drive ("addiction") to do evil. This is expressed on many different levels, ranging from the Holocaust to domestic abuse. (The others watching thought there were too many of these levels to cohere, but I thought it worked.) While the film is not 100% successful (the ending, in particular, confused all of us), it was very thought-provoking and prompted a long after-film discussion. I want to read a [livejournal.com profile] siderea review of it :-) (I'm not sure she'd *like* it, but I'm sure it would prompt interesting responses.)

Christopher Walken gets second billing, but he actually is in only one scene, though it is a doozy. It says something about how offbeat this movie is that, during the aforementioned discussion, I found myself describing Christopher Walken as "the voice of normalcy". It made sense in context, but is not something I would have expected to say about Walken.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
I have a vague memory of some friends linking to a site that mocked Hollywood's idea of "historical costuming" in significant detail. Can anyone give me a pointer? Because I just saw something I really have to share with them. The first segment of "Spirits of the Dead" (1968), based on a Poe short story, featured a lot of amazing costume work, much of which I can only describe as "Renaissance stripper". This site has some images, but they're missing several of my favorite outfits...
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
[livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo came over to watch cheesy horror movies with [livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I. We started with Warlock (1989). Notable for starring Richard E. Grant With A Whip. Also starring Julian Sands as the eponymous Big Bad. Actually not a bad flick, as cheesy horror goes. Takes the unusual tack of having a magic system largely based on traditional witchcraft lore, rather than random made-up stuff. The special effects were rather weak, but the cast did a lot to make up for that with Intention and Emotional Commitment.

[Digression: Warlock features a sequence where our 17th century witch-finder encounters an airplane for the first time. It's a good time travel moment -- now in two directions. Not only do they have a ludicrously easy time getting through airport security, but there are people *smoking* on the airplane!]

Followed that up with the surprisingly similar Devil's Rain (1975). This was substantially more cheesy, though, what with William Shatner and Ernest Borgnine both over-acting for all they were worth. Also notable for involvement of famous Satanist Anton LaVey as a consultant. Some worthwhile moments, but not really recommended.

Both films could be described as "17th century witch and his nemesis end up in the 20th century, where they clash over a significant magical book." Moral Lesson: Don't mess with magical books.

The hordes started trickling by a bit before 5. They hit full force by 6, and we ran out entirely just before 7. The vast majority of the handing-out was done by Teeny, in her most excellent witch outfit.

Notable costumes included a Zombie Ninja (complete with throwing star embedded in his forehead), and a Zombie Princess Leia. Many assorted Princesses, Power Rangers, Superheroes, and Serial Killers. Somewhat fewer, but still notable quantities of vampires, italian plumbers, cute insects, and clowns.

There followed a brief clean-up period, after which Meredith fed everyone into submission. A most excellent day!
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I saw a very strange film today. Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary. Quoting selectively from Wikipedia:
a 2002 horror film directed by Guy Maddin... documenting a performance by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet adapting Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Maddin elected to shoot the dance film in a fashion uncommon for such films, through close-ups and using jump cuts. Maddin also stayed close to the source material of Stoker's novel, emphasizing the xenophobia in the reactions of the main characters to Dracula (played by Zhang Wei-Qiang in Maddin's film).
...
Like most of Maddin's films, Dracula, Pages from a Virgin's Diary is shot in the silent film tradition, complete with title cards and mimicking special effects of the era, such as tinted screen color, shadow play, and vaseline smeared on the camera lens to create a blurry effect. The film is not entirely monochromatic, since computer-generated special effects add bright, acidic colours to tint golden coins, green bank notes, and red blood.

In terms of bare plot, it's a pretty close adaptation of the Stoker, though it changes up specific details quite a lot (Harker at Dracula's Castle is mostly omitted, shown only in brief flashback). But as a silent film adaptation of a ballet, it gets into some seriously weird tonal territory. Even beyond the basic form of the film, there are some odd creative choices, such as making Van Helsing quite explicitly a pervy voyeur.

The visual density was such that Teeny and I couldn't literally describe the visuals for Kes fast enough to keep up, so we gave more-or-less impressionistic descriptions of the action, which often took a bit of an MST3K turn. Plus the occasional "I swear I'm not making that up!"

I can't exactly call it *good*, but I will say that I've never seen anything else quite like it, so it gets at least some points for originality. I'd be interested to hear what [livejournal.com profile] rickthefightguy thought of it, since he has some experience with Dracula adaptations, and the film does contain some interesting dance-violence.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
[livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo, [livejournal.com profile] kestrell, and I are going to watch my favorite version of Treasure Island. It's relatively obscure, having originally been a 1990 TV movie, but is a truly excellent film, and more faithful to the book than any other adaptation I've seen.

Charlton Heston does a brilliant job as Long John Silver, the original archetypal pirate that everyone else talks like on this day. He's got the sincerity and conviction to deliver those oft-heard lines without sounding like he's reciting cliches, and he also pulls off the difficult character mix of charisma and villainy.

Also notable in the cast are Oliver Reed as Billy Bones, Christopher Lee in a brief-but-memorable turn as Blind Pew, and an extremely young Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins. The rest of the cast may not be quite as awesome as these, but nobody does a bad job. The soundtrack is by The Chieftains, and adds well to the atmosphere.

Very Highly Recommended.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
After years of seeing it quoted and referenced (including by two of my favorite comics, Alan Moore's _Swamp Thing_ and Carla Speed McNeil's _Finder_*), I finally got around to seeing "The Night of the Hunter". It's utterly fascinating. Lots of later media quote the bit about having "LOVE" and "HATE" tattooed on fingers, because it's easy to do -- but it's just one small element of the film. The things that really make the movie stand out are almost never referenced, possibly because it would be too difficult to figure out what they were.

My first impression, which on some levels stayed with me through the entire film, was that this was the least subtle film I had ever seen. There is a BAD MAN and a NOBLE BOY -- if the dialogue and costuming had left any doubt about their natures, the soundtrack makes sure to bludgeon you over the head with them, repeatedly. The acting is very broad, almost to the level of a silent film, and the camera lingers over Significant Gestures. The film is bookended by Bible stories with Moral Lessons. There's even a scene near the end with an actual torch-bearing mob! Every aspect is completely "on the nose", with no ambiguity about what it is. It totally *shouldn't* work -- yet, somehow, it does. (Of course, at initial release, both the critics and the public thought it *didn't* work, but it has lived to find its audience.)

I wonder if the director was a follower of the theories of Brecht. So many aspects of the direction seem designed to distance the viewer, to say "this is artificial, a film, a story I am telling you". Realism consistently yields to storytelling. If a dramatic shadow is called for, it will appear, regardless of light sources and optics. Discoveries happen on a strictly narrative schedule, coincidence be damned.

The sets are often very obviously sets, yet framed and filmed with a haunting beauty. One particular underwater shot is perhaps the most beautiful and poetic that I can recall. Over and over again, we see natural beauty in an artificial framing.

Though the acting and direction are done with extremely broad strokes, don't think that that necessitates boring characterization. The characters all have complex layers. Interestingly, the movie presents a wide variety of viewpoints on the nature of female sexuality, not something that you'd have guessed from a plot synopsis.

I begin to think that Laughton actually did some extremely subtle things, hiding all that subtlety beneath the apparent layers of blatancy. Highly Recommended.


* Early in _Sin-Eater_, McNeil spends almost a full page recapping TNotH. At the time, it seemed like an odd pacing blip, but in the context of the full work, it's important as both plot foreshadowing/echoing and as characterization of Jaeger.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
One of my all-time favorite (and unfairly obscure) films is the extremely silly Get Crazy, which is set in and around a New Year's Eve rock concert ushering in 1983. This year marks the 30th anniversary, and there are still people I know who haven't seen it, possibly including you. In order to help educate people about this overlooked gem, I'll be hosting a small party to watch it at Melville Keep, on New Year's EveEve (Sunday, 12/30). Doors open at 2, movie starts at 3.

Hope to see you there!
alexxkay: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I watched "Dead Snow" yesterday. It's a somewhat silly horror Norwegian horror movie. A group of young medical students vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods accidentally disturb some undead Nazis. Gore ensues.

One interesting feature is that the zombies are rather non-traditional. Notably *not* mindless. They don't talk with each other, but they definitely are capable of coordinated action. Not nearly as decayed as many versions. Preternaturally strong, and reasonably fast (except when he plot calls for them not to be). We see them bite people, but that seems to be more about savagery than about 'hunger for human flesh', as far as I could tell. They clearly do enjoy mutilation, though, as one memorably disturbing scene makes eminently clear. Their Oberst is clearly still in command, and he's even less decayed than his men. He actually does speak at one point in the movie: one word only, but it's a doozy.

After the fact, I was reminded of a story [livejournal.com profile] gyzki told one halloween, about a norse revenant of some kind, though I misremember the details. Hey, [livejournal.com profile] gyzki, were these filmmakers merely following old local custom about what the undead do?
alexxkay: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I watched this last weekend. It's a paranoid thriller/satire from 1967, written and directed by Theodore J. Flicker, and starring James Coburn and his excellent psychotic grin. Coburn plays a psychiatrist who gets hired to work for the President of the United States, to help relieve some of the man's psychic pressures. Coburn quickly finds that he no longer has any outlet for his *own* increasing pressures. He flees his job, pursued by agents of multiple countries who want the secrets inside his head. Wackiness ensues, including a delightful sequence where he takes refuge with some traveling hippie musicians. In the end, order is restored and goodness prevails... or does it?

This was of my favorite movies as a young man, but I hadn't seen it fifteen or twenty years. It has dated in rather a surprising manner. I mean, I was expecting to see fashion, music, culture, and politics which reflected the period, all of which are definitely there. What I was *not* expecting was the way in which the satire has been rendered... pathetic. Various ideas which are presented in the story as insane exaggerations, beyond the realm of the possible, have passed into actual history years ago, or are poised to happen at any time now. Some kinds of humor are funny because they're true, but satire gets less funny the more literally true it becomes. A lot of the humor still works, thankfully, and I do still recommend the film. But it's definitely not the same film I saw back in the 80s...
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Inspired by the recent movie-viewing, I reread _The Strange Case of Doctor Jeckyl and Mister Hyde_. Some observations follow.

None of the film adaptations have really portrayed the moral weakness of the character as written. Film Jeckyls are all basically working from good intentions, with the creation of Hyde being an unfortunate accident. In the book, Jeckyl deliberately sets out to unleash Hyde.
If each, I told myself, could but be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust might go his way, delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil.
(emphasis added)

Ok, granted, he also wanted (or claimed to want) to create an angelic self -- but in this, he failed utterly, as he himself realizes.
...although I had now two characters as well as two appearances, one was wholly evil, and the other was still the old Henry Jekyll, that incongruous compound of whose reformation and improvement I had already learned to despair. The movement was thus wholly toward the worse.

There is no mention of any further attempt to create an angel-self. Instead, Jeckyl indulges his Hyde-self to an ever-increasing degree. Unlike most movie versions, he does this while in full control of his faculties, and with each side having clear memories of the other's actions. Though he is thus fully culpable for Hyde, hear how he struggles, ineffectually, to distance himself from his own evil:
When I would come back from these excursions, I was often plunged into a kind of wonder at my vicarious depravity. This familiar that I called out of my own soul, and sent forth to do his good pleasure, was a being inherently malign and villainous; his every act and thought centered on self; drinking pleasure with bestial avidity from one degree of torture to another; relentless like a man of stone. Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde; but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde. And thus his conscience slumbered.


I note that Jeckyl and Hyde are *very* physically distinct in the book, much moreso than could be portrayed by a single actor, no matter how much makeup he wears. (And there are definite thematic drawbacks to using two actors.) But we now have not just makeup, but CGI and motion-capture. It might be interesting if someone applied techniques such as those used in the last several Robert Zemeckis films to an adaptation of this story. One actor could provide voice and movement for both J&H, while being 'projected' into two radically different bodies.

This line of thought is also inspired by the reactions everyone in the novel have to Hyde. Those reactions bear a strong resemblance to those caused by The Uncanny Valley. Of course, one would want the technical art to have progressed to the point that *only* Hyde was situated in that valley!

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