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FROM HELL

SYNOPSIS:
London, 1888. A killer, dubbed Jack The Ripper after his modus operandi, has begun murdering prostitutes in Whitechapel, the slums of Londonís East End. Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) of Scotland Yard is woken from a drug-induced stupor to head the investigation. Haunted by psychic visions of the killer, Abberline discovers a sinister web of social and political connections to the case that appear to reach the highest levels. As the murders continue he becomes romantically involved with Mary Kelly (Heather Graham), on eof the girls whose life will be threatened by the insane Ripper.

Review by Louise Keller:
A superbly crafted, handsome psychological thriller, From Hell is a gripping tale of terror and conspiracy, whose lavish, moody production design is bewitching. In this retelling of Jack the Ripperís dark story, we are enveloped in a mood so intense that we can smell the stench, feel the terror. Trevor Jones' sweeping score and Martin Childs' sets are so extraordinarily detailed that as we are taken through the cobbled streets of East London in the late 19th century, we feel claustrophobic and unable to breathe. From the slums of the street to the starched white collars of the upper crust and the monarchy, this is a story of contrasts. Johnny Depp could well belong to this era, and as Inspector Frederick Abberline, imparts enough intrigue to satisfy. Handsome and mysterious, Depp is perfectly cast, and while he looks dapper and elegant, his cockney accent gives his street smartness credibility. Like many of the characters, Abberline has a secret: when we first meet him, he is hallucinating from an opium trip, seeking clues about the shocking crimes he is investigating. But Abberline is not the only one afflicted with demons. Life is tough on the streets and survival is an uphill battle. There are some graphically disturbing scenes, but it's hard to look away Ė so compelling is the tale. The relationship between the prostitutes is well canvassed, and the contrast between the two worlds of the upper and lower class chillingly portrayed. You will not forget Ian Holm as the Queen's physician, while Heather Graham is totally (surprisingly) credible as Mary. Psychologically stimulating, this is not for the faint hearted, and as the story crescendos to a shocking conclusion, we feel as though we have certainly had a glimpse from hell.

Review by Richard Kuipers:

If you think yet another visit to fog-shrouded Whitechapel in 1888 is surplus to cinematic requirements, From Hell may convince you otherwise. The most famous un-captured killer in criminal history has been the subject of so many films and books just about everyone connected with the case has been named as the killer. From Hell doesn't pull a new culprit out of the hat and doesn't need to. This is less about the Ripper than the man leading the investigation - Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline of Scotland Yard (Johnny Depp). It's through his opium and absinthe-bombed eyes we're guided through the decadent and corrupt underbelly of late Victorian society. It's a new angle on the old story and makes From Hell the best Ripper-related film since Murder By Decree (1979) pitted Sherlock Holmes against the doxie-dissecter. Johnny Depp's beautiful face is the perfect vehicle for this tale of one man's struggle to overcome his own addictions so that he may discover those driving his quarry. He's outstanding as usual and even with a sometimes wobbly cockney accent he stamps his class all over the gloriously fake sets constructed on a sound stage in Prague. Depp's surrounded by a top-notch cast including Robbie Coltrane as his no-nonsense right hand man Godley and Heather Graham as the hooker with a heart Abberline falls for and Saucy Jack would like to remove. From Hell is a departure for directors Allan and Albert Hughes, who make a stylish transition from the contemporary American ghettos of Menace II Society and Dead Presidents to the ghettos of London in the 1880s. With the fog machine turned up to 11, Trevor Jones' superb score sending shivers up the spine and real flair added to Abberline's psychic sequences and the grisly murder scenes they've pulled off a classy and absorbing entrant in the Ripper film stakes.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FEATURE by Eleanor Singer

FROM HELL (MA)
(US)

CAST: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Jason Flemyng and Robbie Coltrane

PRODUCERS: Don Murphy, Jane Hamsher

DIRECTOR: Allen and Albert Hughes

SCRIPT: Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias (Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Deming, ASC

EDITOR: George Bowers ACE

MUSIC: Trevor Jones

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Martin Childs

RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 14, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: July 10, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: October 28, 2005







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