The Island Of Dr. Moreau, I didn’t read that part.

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I recently watched the 1996 film version of The Island of Dr. Moreau. Shortly before that, I read the H.G. Wells novel by the same name. The movie does bear a slight resemblance to the book, in that some of the characters are the same, almost. although I admire the writers attempt to modernize the story, I fear that somewhere in the process several things were lost. Updating the story does sound like a great concept, using modern equipment to do the same work. But it just doesn’t work in this particular film. The differences are vast. But the main problem with this story, I have come to realize, is Montgomery.

There were alot of minor changes made, which is fine. An example of these changes is Prendick, for starters, isn’t Prendick, his name is Edward Douglas. I do not know why this
name change was made. Another example would be that Edward Douglas has crash landed in the ocean after a horrible plane wreck. Douglas (Prendick) could have been in an
inflatable raft instead of a dingy and the rest of the story could still go on the way it was supposed to. These changes to not make a big differenvce in the plot line, unfortunately, they are not the only changes.

Montgomery has changed as well, but not his name, his personality. He seems like a completely different Montgomery than the one I read about, although, that may not have
been the fault of the script. Steven Whitty a writer for Knight-Ridder News Service chastized Val Kilmer’s (who portrayed Montgomery) performance, “He’d much rather go
into a pose than give a performance, and his job in this movie makes Brando’s [as Moreau] look sane.” I think The way Montgomerey was portrayed made up a bulk of the problems
in this film.However, this change in Montgomery is just the beginning, unfortunately, of an awful mocking of H.G. Wells classic novel.

Edward Douglas is British, just like Edward Prendick. Douglas is portrayed as a U.N. peacekeeper, as opposed to a biologist. I think this may be the reason He and
Montgomery failed to hit it off the way they began to in the book. Or maybe it is because Edward is from England and in this version, Montgomery is American. This takes away his
reason for being so interested in Prendick in the novel.

Another issue I have with Montgomery is that he is portrayed as creepy. He seems to always do something that Moreau does not want him to do. Unlike the book version, he
seems to be going out of his way to disobey Moreau. Also, instead of being an alchoholic,Montgomery is presented as being a drug addict. Not only a drug addict, he is also a drug
pusher. Montgomery is supposed to give the creatures a syrum to stop them from regressing. He puts morphine and some halucinigenics in the syrum so they “keep coming
back.” Montgomery’s ultimate goal seems to be to have the creatures follow and worship him, not Moreau. In the book Montgomery seemed more occupied with helping Dr.
Moreau in his studies, and making friends with the creatures (or at the very least, aquaintences).

Another issue with Montgomery is that he did not rescue Douglas for the same reason he rescued Prendick in the book. He brought him to the island, to Moreau because his body contained something that would completely stop the pretty cat girl from regressing, which would eventually destroy Edward. Portraying Montgomery this way
works against the story.

The pretty cat girl is another factor that never existed in the book. She is originally presented as Moreau’s daughter. But, every one of the creatures on the island calls Moreau father. I believe she was included in this script as a potential love interest, or friend at least, for Edward, perhaps replacing the friendship that Edward and Montgomery started to form
in the book. I do not think that these creatures were ever intended to be pretty. Making a pretty creature, seems to take a little bit away from the view that Moreau was a complete
failure. That is also similar to something Edward says near the end of the movie.

Another big difference in this film was the house of pain. We see briefly Moreau’s lab. His lab is staffed by Moreau’s beast people. This takes a little fear out of the beast people long before the revolt even begins. When Edward walks in they are
delivering a baby creature. I can’t believe the Dr. Moreau who let his creatures do his work in the lab, is the same Dr. Moreau who won’t allow his creatures to cook a rabbit, which is one of the few points that remain the same.

There is also an absence of whips. Instead, Moreau uses a giant control panel which is connected to the animals through an implant placed in their bodies. When he presses the
button, the animal, or animals connected with that button recieve an a shock, until the button is pressed again.The Hayena-swine, upon inspecting his dead friend the leopard creature’s
body, discovers the implant, and removes his own. He then forms what resembles a modern gang to confront the doctor, and kill him. The Puma who kills Moreau alone in the
book has nothing to do with this confrontation. In fact, in the novel we don’t really know what makes the puma decide to attack, other than the pain. This is the event that begins the worst
part of their telling of the story.

The dog creature who was so loyal to Prendick near the end of the book, is now a blood thirsty murderer. He joins the revolt, and ends up killing the cat girl because Moreau
never punished her for anything. Montgomery, during this whole revolt, is doing nothing productive. He breaks the radio that hasn’t been working anyway, just so M’lin (his friend in
the book), can’t fix it, and Edward can’t go home. In the novel Montgomery destroys the boat. However, unlike the film, he apologizes only a short time later. The only other thing he
does during the revolt, is run around dressed like Moreau, doing an impression of Moreau,and giving away all of the syrum. He tells the dog he wants to go to dog heaven, and that
point, the dog kills him. I can not figure out if Montgomery’s statement about dog heaven is a request to be killed, or merely a statement that gets him killed.

The revolt continues. At
this point all of the creatures are screaming and just being chaotic. Instead of the main villians hiding in the woods as they do in the book, they are out in the front, getting everybody
worked up. Just when you think Edward is going to be killed, he uses his human wit to turn the animals against one another. He attempts his wit in the novel as well, but not to destroy
his main persuer, he tries to convince the animals that Moreau is still watching. In the movie, One of the creatures says this. This has less impact on the reader coming from him. The
leader of the pack decides to walk into the burning building Then it is morning, and there is a small boat sitting there, waiting for him. The sayer of the law wishes him well, and tells him to
bring back no more scientists. This is a similar message as the novel, in that nature should not be controlled by us as humans. However, the way that message is given is different. In
the book, Edward kills his main enemy himself, and the other animals slowly regress until a boat finally turns up for him. I think that we, as the audience should be able to see the regression of the animals. These animals may live happily ever after as soon as Edward leaves, we have no way of knowing.They way this story is told, we don’t even know if the creatures need the syrum. Montgomery could have been lying about that, which certainly
would not be a surprize after the way he has acted. In the novel the sayer of the law has been long dead at this point.

The Island of Dr. Moreau was an attempt to tell a great story to a new generation. However, instead of the message being what it originally was, whether it was that you
shouldn’t interfere with nature, or that animals and humans are essentially the same thing, it
has turned into a horror movie and an excuse to play with puppets and special effects
make up. It merely touches on the message that you shouldn’t interfere with science. And the only time an animal to human comparison was made, was in the beginning, when
Edward say’s the men in the raft fought like animals. I believe you are supposed to remember this line all through the movie, I personally, almost forgot it all together.The Pittsburg Post states that “By borrowing only the simple plot line and not the real content of Wells’ work, we get a hackneyed horror movie that blunts the point of Wells’ speculation.” I think this story still has the potential to be modernized, by someone else.

works cited
The Island Of Dr. Moreau. Dir, John Frankenheimer, 1996.
“The novel ‘Dr. Moreau’ much scarier.” Pittsburg Post September 3, 1996.
Wells, H.G. The Island Of Dr. Moreau. New York: Bantam, 1994
Whitty, Stephen, Knight-Ridder news service “The Island of Dr. Moreau” is a classic novel,
awful film.” Greensboro News Record August 23, 1996.

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