Last night I had the pleasure of going to Temple Church to a screening of the 1920’s film Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The church has recently raised the funds for a brand new organ and the film was accompanied by an organist’s creative improvisation.
I ashamedly have never read Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, or seen any of the films, but had a grasp of the story.
John Barrymore plays the lead role(s) in this film adaptation, and creates an atmosphere of horror mixed perfectly with humour and intrigue. I thought that being a silent film, I would feel somewhat detached from the story line and characters, but if anything the lack of spoken dialogue only gave more weight to the physicality of the actors.
You probably already know the story quite well, but Dr Jekyll exudes an air of dignity and general good-naturedness (hm… couldn’t think of another way to say it). He is a character who apparently is unable to be evil – often late home because he helps the poor in his free surgery, and is due to be wed to an upstanding lady in the community.
He is only tempted by the dark side when his bride-to-be’s father challenges him that there is a dark side to everyone, and one must give into temptation as and when it arises. Dr Jekyll is now tempted, and plans to make a physical alter-ego..
Following some chemical experiments Dr Jekyll finds the perfect potion to transform him into someone completely different, and he calls himself Mr Hyde. As the film goes on, Mr Hyde gets more and more hideous and commits grotesque deeds, in order for Mr Jekyll to remain a spotless individual.
The film embraces the farcical elements of the story, while also capturing the horror of his situation. I was absolutely captivated by this film, and watching it in Temple Church was an amazing experience. The church is by its nature quite cold, which added to the chill in the air!
I know that the organisers behind this screening are planning more events like these, and you can check their website to see. It’s a great thing that these churches are used for a variety of events, as these bring people into the building who may not usually go there. Also, Temple is such a beautiful part of London which is often overlooked, tucked away in the law buildings that feel so exclusive and hidden away.
You can watch Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on YouTube
I would strongly recommend watching this film, it’s a true classic. Fortunately you can find the full film on youtube here. Enjoy!
We finished off the evening by heading to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street – what a treat!