Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Starring: David Hemming, Lisa Harrow, Ian Bannen, Clive Swift, Toyah Wilcox and Diana Dors
Second Sight Films Ltd
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 18 June 2007

The distinguished Dr Jekyll is a scientist working on the duality of man - much to the amusement of his learned colleagues. When he hits on the correct formula, not only does the resulting serum create a side of him without any of the inhibitions of his better half, but he is also made significantly younger. After rediscovering the pleasures of the flesh, he reverts to his older self, shocking his betrothed and long-time friends by leaving everything in his will to his new 'assistant' Mr Hyde. Jekyll instructs the servants that Hyde is to be given the run of the house, but when Hyde kills someone for trying to prevent him beating a young boy, Jekyll is shocked and vows to himself that he will put an end to his experiments. But the lure proves too strong, and Hyde is becoming increasingly unstable...

There's no doubting that Robert Louis Stevenson's novel is a timeless classic which explores the inner psyche of man. This BBC adaptation of the tale contains a stellar cast which includes David Hemmings, Lisa Harrow, Ian Bannen, Clive Swift, Toyah Willcox and a typically over-the-top Diana Dors. The performances are uniformly strong, but at just short of two hours duration, the plot realisation seems to drag its heels somewhat.

As is often the case in Victorian tales, there is the gentry and the gutter rats, with nothing in between. Even Edward Hyde is portrayed as a civilised gentleman but with more confidence than most. It is a long way from the creature of decadence he is supposed to be. Shouldn't he be an uncontrollable torrent of anger, rage, violence and lust?

I must just mention the incidental music, which is some of the worst I've ever heard. Imagine an unaccomplished tone-deaf musician pressing random keys on a cheap Woolworths synthesiser at inappropriate moments and you might get the idea. Even when Jekyll is appealing to God, we get intrusive accompanying church music.

I can only assume that the timing of this release is to tie-in with the imminent BBC screening of Steven Moffat's intrigue-based slant on the story. This version is acceptable Sunday teatime viewing, but lacks the pace that would keep modern audiences hooked.

Ty Power

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