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From Hell

Only the legend will survive 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous criminals ever, his fame partly achieved because nobody ever discovered who he was. In 1888, he went on a ten-week killing spree, murdering five whores in Whitechapel, London.

While there have been higher body counts from more sophisticated psychopaths, the Ripper is the stuff of legend. This legend, not being subject to copyright, is very exploitable: the shelves of discount bookshops groan with 'solutions' to the mystery of his identity, penned by hack crime writers.

Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's graphic novel, From Hell, treats the Ripper myth with a great deal of originality. The film is no different. The Hughes Brothers take us on a journey into the deepest, darkest parts of the Victorian underworld, following opium-toking Inspector Abberline (Johnny Depp) as he tries to find the killer and falls in love with Mary Kelly (Heather Graham), a potential victim. Tagging along are Peter Godley (Robbie Coltrane), there to keep Abberline straight for as long as he can, and Sir William Gull (Ian Holm), a surgeon who advocates lobotomies at every opportunity.

The Hughes Brothers are clearly intrigued by their setting. Victorian London was not only the centre of a huge empire, but was the lid on a seething pot of vice. Private misbehaviour was a boom industry, with many rich men indulging in debauchery. To illustrate the point, members of the royal family are involved in whoring and venereal mishaps.

The movie's real strength is in its rich atmosphere - dark, clammy and exhilarating. Comic-book visuals, all distorted perspective and strange angles, dominate the film. Lurid settings, saturated colours, and deep shadows illustrate a city full of secret places protected by power and corruption. Intriguing, fascinating, and almost overpowering From Hell will have you imagining murderers around every corner and jumping at the slightest noise.

Claudia Whitney

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Screenings of this film:

2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)