Why would I watch the 1986 animated TV movie version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
? I don't plan on watching every
adaptation. Though I might end up doing that. But I guess I was in the mood for cheesy 80s animation and that's just what I got. From Australia's Burbank Films, a studio that has produced cheap animated adaptations of literary classics since the early 80s, it's not as bad as you might expect. The style looks like Hanna-Barbera but it's better animated, still a cut well below what was out of Japan at the time, though. In terms of story, I think it's instructive if you want an idea of the haziest conception of Jekyll and Hyde
in the popular imagination.
There's no playing around with how much Jekyll (Max Meldrum) is in Hyde (David Nettheim) or how much Hyde is in Jekyll, or how much the events of the story support or contradict Jekyll's idea of each person containing a good and evil side. Jekyll does talk about this and his colleagues do scoff at him as usual but Hyde is portrayed as essentially a lucky thug who's taken up residence in Jekyll's home. Expect that they occupy the same body, he's basically exactly what Utterson assumes he is in the book--a bad fellow who forces Jekyll to put him his will. The film isn't very clear on the subject but it seems, after the first time Jekyll takes the potion, Hyde just manifests on his own and switches back by drinking the potion in order to hide from authorities.
He seems basically modelled on Peg Leg Pete and his first transformation is accompanied by synthesised bass guitar with a rock beat. I had to grin, after all the other adaptations I've watched lately, to see Hyde as a run of the mill 80s cartoon villain.
Obviously it's meant for children who probably wouldn't appreciate the subtleties of conversations about duty and the liberation of amorality. Oddly, this simple version of the story got me thinking about what a basically frightening idea it is, losing control of one's own life so completely. This in spite of a pretty garish colour palette.