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Special mirror effects in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)


FredCDobbs
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Ok, this should be fun.

 

Think of it is as a kind of a puzzle or a game.

 

Watch this film clip from the 1931 film, and try to figure out which mirror image is real and which is fake. In other words, which is a real reflection from a mirror, and which is a scene of the actor looking directly into the camera lens, which is a faked mirror image but with no mirror involved.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbg5oXpq42Y&feature=player_detailpage#t=40s

 

I worked on this for about three hours last night, trying to figure out which is which.

 

One of the most perplexing questions is, which hand is holding the beaker of chemicals, when Fredric March drinks it? Is it his left hand or his right hand?

 

:)

 

This puzzle might drive some of you a little nuts, but after you work on it a while, I'll reveal all the answers and give you all the clues that reveal all the answers. :)

 

There are three separate mirror sequences in this clip. Actually there are four, but you probably won't notice the extra one. :)

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At 2:40 when he first appears again there is no mirror either, the angle is all wrong when he first looks at the camera.

 

Then it switches to a real mirror sequence at 2:44 where you can see his back.

 

At 3:12 I think it is the real mirror again.

 

So two fakes, two real mirrors.

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Excellent! Very good! :)

 

All the shots in this sequence are tricky, because the director and cameraman keep going from a real frontal shot of him, to a mirror image shot of him. So, his left and right keep changing.

 

When we see someone from the back, their left is our left, and their right is our right. But when we see someone from the front, their left is our right and their right is our left (like looking at them in a photograph). When we see someone's reflection in a mirror, their left is our left and their right is our right,. :) (I think I've got that right. It's tricky just to try to think about it without getting mixed up.)

 

Now, the two scenes that really had me thinking hard were the two scenes of him with the beaker of chemicals. So, see if you can answer these two questions. Be careful, they are trickly. :)

 

1 - In which hand is March holding the beaker of chemicals BEFORE he looks in the mirror? His right hand or his left hand?

 

2 - In which hand is March holding the beaker of chemicals AS HE DRINKS the liquid? His right hand or his left hand?

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The dirty shirt gives him away too, if you look at 43 seconds in he has the beaker in his left hand and his shirt has dirt stains on the left side so both the beaker and the stains are on the same side of his body.

 

Then at 58 seconds in at the fake mirror scene the beaker is in his right hand and the stains are still on his left side. They needed to part his hair the other way and switch shirts with one that buttons the opposite way to make it match up to a real mirror, but it happens so fast I doubt many could catch it so quickly. You can also see in this frame the beaker and the part of his hair are on the same side. At 43 seconds in they are on opposite sides.

 

For being done way back then they did a great job on this and you have to look hard to find these things.

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>The dirty shirt gives him away too, if you look at 43 seconds in he has the beaker in his left hand and his shirt has dirt stains on the left side so both the beaker and the stains are on the same side of his body.

>

>Then at 58 seconds in at the fake mirror scene the beaker is in his right hand and the stains are still on his left side. They needed to part his hair the other way and switch shirts with one that buttons the opposite way to make it match up to a real mirror, but it happens so fast I doubt many could catch it so quickly. You can also see in this frame the beaker and the part of his hair are on the same side. At 43 seconds in they are on opposite sides.

 

You are exactly right, about the hands the beaker are in, his hair, his shirt buttons, and the stain. :)

 

What threw me for a while last night was when they switched hands with the beaker, from left to right for the fake mirror image. Then I noticed the stains on his shirt and the buttons. :)

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You can tell when he is Hyde which is the mirror and which is a fake by the way his shirt looks too, they needed to make a shirt that buttoned in reverse like it would look in a mirror in the fake part.

 

Compare 2:40 to 3:31 and you can see his shirt is buttoned on different sides. They did do a good job with the candle on the stand, they got the angles pretty close with that for the reflections.

 

Added: They even had him wear the dirty shirt so that gives it away too, see 2:40 stains on right side of fake mirror, then a couple seconds later at 2:43 the stains switch to the other side of his body in the real mirror.

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Yes, that's correct. I noticed the stain switch-over too. At 2:40, that's not a real mirror shot. It's just a photograph of him standing behind a wall and behind a mirror's wooden frame. But no mirror. Then at 2:43 the scene quickly changes to being a real reflection in a real mirror, and the shirt stains suddenly change sides.

 

Yes, they did an excellent job with the candle sticks. And also, notice there is something like a white business card stuck up on the left side of the mirror frame, both in the fake mirror scene and the real mirror scene. And everything in the background of the fake mirror scene is pretty much in its correct place.

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During the transformation, Fredric March looks like Jerry Lewis with bad dentures. Scary! :^0

 

This is what I love about the John Barrymore (OOPS NOT Lon Chaney) "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" 1920 silent is that no smoke and mirrors were involved. John's talent went into overdrive when he only changed his facial expression.

 

500full.jpg

 

Edited by: hamradio on Sep 29, 2012 12:18 AM

 

Edited by: hamradio on Sep 29, 2012 2:12 AM Watching too many silents

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> This is what I love about the Lon Chaney "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" 1920 silent is that no smoke and mirrors were involved. Lon's talent went into overdrive when he only changed his facial expression.

Uh, you don't know your silent film history....that was John Barrymore (Drew's grandfather) who starred, not Lon Chaney. Whatever made you think it was Lon??

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>This is what I love about the John Barrymore "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" 1920 silent is that no smoke and mirrors were involved. John's talent went into overdrive when he only changed his facial expression.

 

Yes, I've always been amazed at the way John Barrymore was able to make that large lump suddenly grow up on the back of his head, and he made all of his fingers suddenly grow longer, and he made all of his teeth suddenly go bad, all without any special makeup or special effects. Man, people sure could act back in those days. :)

 

drjekyllmrhyde.jpg

 

drjekyll216.jpg

 

jekyllbarrymore.jpg

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> This is what I love about the John Barrymore (OOPS NOT Lon Chaney) "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" 1920 silent is that no smoke and mirrors were involved. John's talent went into overdrive when he only changed his facial expression.

That is ONLY in the beginning of the transformation scene...after a minute or so, they go to a dissolve transition and into the actual makeup. This is a common "urban legend" over the years that Barrymore did the ENTIRE transformation without any makeup...which of course is nonsense.

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Years ago, I think it was on the show "Silents Please" that they ran an abbreviated version of the Barrymore film and the voiceover claimed that Barrymore achieved his transformation without the aid of make-up. Meanwhile, we're looking at a pointy head, eye-shadow, darkened teeth - you've seen the film.

 

My mother said "Sure, and Claude Rains really turned invisible I guess."

 

 

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> {quote:title=clore wrote:}{quote}Years ago, I think it was on the show "Silents Please" that they ran an abbreviated version of the Barrymore film and the voiceover claimed that Barrymore achieved his transformation without the aid of make-up. Meanwhile, we're looking at a pointy head, eye-shadow, darkened teeth - you've seen the film.

Again...a falsely or incorrectly perpetuated urban legend, as I said below.

 

Also depends on how one technically or nitpickingly looks at it...once he transforms, he's IN the makeup. The transformation...at least the beginning of it....IS done without makeup.

 

"Transformation" is defined by the dictionary as an act, process or instance of transforming or being transformed...not what the individual in question looks like AFTER the process of transforming has completed itself.

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Transformation" is defined by the dictionary as an act, process or instance of transforming or being transformed...not what the individual in question looks like AFTER the process of transforming has completed itself.

 

Ah yes, but (as you noted immediately below) as there are stages to the transformation, and once the camera cuts to a different angle, one can see that Barrymore is being assisted by the make-up man. Thus, the earliest stage is Barrymore alone - but the urban legend had been exaggerated or often misinterpreted as was the case in this broadcast to which I referred. When one is looking at the finished product, and the narrator is saying that Barrymore achieved this result without any assistance, it's akin to looking at a hairy Larry Talbot and being told that he transformed purely through acting abilitty.

 

But thanks for the definition of transformation. Rather unnecessary though - the whole point of my anecdote was to show how mom disbelieved the urban legend that you brought up (hence my responding to you directly).

 

 

Edited by: clore on Sep 29, 2012 3:30 PM

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