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Sorry...but this review contains Spoilers! This is a real sleeper of a movie starring Johnny Depp & Heather Graham. Both gave stellar performances, as well as the always witty Robbie Coltrane. The premise that the blame for Jack the Ripper was related to the Royals' dalliances & the Freemason's preservation of the Royals reputation was quite an interesting take on the Ripper story as a whole. I quite enjoyed it & wouldn't find it surprising if most of it were true. Anyway, good movie to watch & get a take on the London 'unwashed' world versus the London 'posh' world.
Combines many of the theories surrounding the Jack the Ripper murders. It takes place in the Whitechapel district of London, an area crawling with all manner of vice, in the autumn of 1888. Sets are convincing (shot in authentic Victorian setting), and characters are brought to life via fine acting combined with Victorian dress and accents. For example, Johnny Depp is very convincing as the chief investigator, Inspector Abberline, who receives advance information about the Ripper's grisly murders in the form of psychic dreams (and with the assistance of opium-based laudinum). I won't spoil the ending by telling you more. I've seen this movie at least half a dozen times, still enjoy watching it and recommend it.
From Hell was a 2001 adaptation of a graphic novel by the Hughes Brothers. It featured Johnny Depp as Scotland Yard Inspector Frederick Abberline, Heather Graham as a prostitute named Mary Kelly, Robbie Coltrane as Sergeant Peter Godley, and Ian Holm as Sir William Gull. The movie was a murder mystery police procedural surrounding the story of Jack the Ripper the English serial killer in the 1800s. It took that source material and turned it into one about secret societies, the British upper class and their privileges and excesses. The basic theme was that the rich’s wealth allowed them to do as they pleased including commit horrible crimes and cover it up.
The Hughes Brothers did a great job creating the mood of the film. It begins with Mary Kelly and her friends who are prostitutes working the streets of London. There are gangs threatening them, they have to pay to sleep on benches because they have no homes, etc. They represent the lower class who were the majority in the country at that time. Most of the story takes place in their milieu. That’s contrasted to the rich who become concerned about the murders, but just want it all hushed up. Inspector Abberline’s boss for example wants to blame foreigners or the Jews for the murders and be done with it. Those all play on society’s fears and racism.
The mystery begins as Mary Kelly and her friends become the targets of Jack The Ripper. First Ann Cook is kidnapped and interrogated by the police because she knows some secret. To silence her she is lobotomized. Then another one of Mary’s friends Martha is gruesomely murdered by The Ripper. All of Mary’s compatriots would become victims and Inspector Abberline is given the job of finding their killer. This is where the movie moves into a police procedural-mystery as Abberline is very meticulous and takes the murders as more than just a whore being gutted on the streets, which was actually a common occurrence back then. For example, he believes that an educated man was behind the murders because of the knowledge of the anatomy that’s shown in how the victims are cut up. He also finds a grape sprig at a murder scene which pointed to someone with money as only the rich had the resources to buy fruit back then. He finds out far more than he plans for as the path leads to the upper class.
The movie is a great exploration into the legend of Jack The Ripper one of the most infamous mass murderers. It creates a real sense of evil with the killings.
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2020
The Hughes Brothers’ “From Hell” adapts the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, which itself adapted the theory Joseph “Hobo” Sickert, the alleged illegitimate son of artist William Sickert, conveyed to Stephen Knight including a conspiracy involving Queen Victoria and various other senior members of the British government, all Freemasons, to enlist Sir William Gull, one of the Physicians-in-Ordinary to Victoria, in murdering women who had knowledge of an illegitimate heir to the throne fathered by Prince Albert Victor. Most historians and experts, however, have since rejected Knight’s story, with even Joseph Sickert recanting in the “Sunday Times” in June 1978.
Moore and Campbell used their graphic novel used Gull and Freemasonry to engage with metaphysical ideas, adding a touch of fantasy that blends with the realistic horror and changing times to imbue the story with an atmosphere more intense than mere murder mystery. The film, however, departs from the source material. The film combines the characters of Inspector Frederick Abberline, the lead investigator on the Ripper case, with Robert James Lees, a fraudulent psychic with a grudge against Gull. Johnny Depp portrays Abberline as frequently taking opium or laudanum while having visions relevant to the case. His mannerisms also fall somewhere between his role as Ichabod Crane in “Sleepy Hallow” and his later portrayal of Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. Further, while Moore and Campbell divulged the Ripper’s identity from the start, the film instead plays out like a traditional mystery with Ian Holm portraying Sir William Gull as a consultant to Inspector Abberline à la Hannibal Lecter.
While Moore and Campbell strove to capture the metaphysical ideas of the time through Freemasonry, electricity, and various characters having visions, the film only hints at this. Further, when the film shows the Ripper’s final transformation, it’s a jarring change in tone as the directors hadn’t foreshadowed it like the graphic novel. The Hughes Brothers also show their version of Abberline’s visions as true, where Moore and Campbell took a more ambiguous tack, leaving it up to the reader to decide if the several characters’ visions and the supernatural were real or merely the product of various characters’ imaginations. Alan Moore later described his approach, writing, “Despite the Gull theory’s obvious attractions, the idea of a solution, any solution, is inane. Murder isn’t like books. Murder, a human event located in both space and time, has an imaginary field completely unrestrained by either. It holds meaning, and shape, but no solution.” So while Moore and Campbell offer a solution of sorts, that wasn’t the point of their book. Comparatively, the Hughes Brothers’ film is a standard mystery. Enjoyable in its own way, but not the literary tour-de-force of the graphic novel.
3.0 out of 5 starsTHE "DIFINITIVE EDITION" HAS NO NEW OR EXTENDED SCENES IN THE MOVIE
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 17, 2018
I never usually write reviews, but want to help potential buyers to not be confused/mislead by the publlicity spiel on this "Difiinitive Edition" of From Hell.
I was one of several people I know, thinking this will be an extended 'director's cut' with more scenes in the movie... it is not. If you have the original version - and want more film-play - don't waste your money on this version.
The plus points are - the sound is crisp and clear - unlike the audio woolyness of the earlier versions, which had pivotal scene speach being really hard to understand. Also, the visuals are probably clearer than earlier versions.
Those are the only things making this version worth buying to replace an earlier version you had.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2012
The film recieved mixed reviews when it came out a few years ago, i read alot of people saying it was more style over substance, i have to say i disagree.
For a start the cast is fantastic, Depp, Holm, Coltrane, Graham are all great, but to be honest Ian Holm is the star here, his effortless acting shines throughout this film. Depp is as cool and collective as ever and Coltrane a good side kick. The weakest is Heather Graham, this is probably down to her dodgey cockney accent and i think the fact she looks uncomfortable doing it makes it sound worse than it could be.
The story is well written, despite having a few plot holes and a silly romantic sub-plot which doesnt detract from the film but its needless realy and adds nothing to it. Its based on one of several theories of Jack the Ripper, it will please some lovers of the now infamous legend of the Ripper, but the sometimes lack of depth or real horror will also annoy others.
Indeed it has style and bags of it, its well made and looks amazing and edgey throughout. Dark corners and brilliantly lit scenes give it an almost uncomfortable feel to the movie.
All in all its a great film and worth a watch, wether your a thriller/horror fan or a fan of Depp or Holm.
Now for the Blu-ray itself.
The transfer is fantastic, Blu-rays are like a minefield at the moment, some half baked transfers are out there that realy do not improve on the DVD release, this however has been done with alot of effort.
Most of the film is dark and the blu-ray edition realy makes the most of it, the darkness is deep and the colors vibrant when needed. The sound quality is fantastic too, with the excellent sound track (not the horrible teckno pap used on the trailer) looming in the background throughout.
Feature wise its a bit thin on the ground, trailers and the usual basic stuff but for £5 you cannot complain.