From HellOctober 19, 2001
In Victorian Era London, a troubled clairvoyant police detective investigates the murders by Jack The Ripper.
Release Year: 2001
Rating: 6.8/10 (70,564 voted)
Critic's Score: 54/100
Stars: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm
It is 1888 in London, and the unfortunate poor lead horrifying lives in the city's deadliest slum, Whitechapel. Harassed by gangs and forced to walk the streets for a living, Mary Kelly and her small group of companions trudge on through this daily misery, their only consolation being that things can't get any worse. Yet things somehow do when their friend Ann is kidnapped and they are drawn into a conspiracy with links higher up than they could possibly imagine. The kidnapping is soon followed by the gruesome murder of another woman, Polly, and it becomes apparent that they are being hunted down, one by one. Sinister even by Whitechapel standards, the murder grabs the attention of Inspector Fred Abberline, a brilliant yet troubled man whose police work is often aided by his psychic abilities. Abberline becomes deeply involved with the case, which takes on personal meaning to him when he and Mary begin to fall in love…
Writers: Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell
Inspector Frederick Abberline
Sir William Gull
Sergeant Peter Godley
Sir Charles Warren
Netley, the Coachman
Dark Annie Chapman
Benjamin 'Ben' Kidney
Only the legend will survive.
Release Date: 19 October 2001
Filming Locations: Barrandov Studios, Prague, Czech Republic
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $11,014,818
(21 October 2001)
Did You Know?
Although both Sergeant Godley and Inspector Frederick Abberline were involved in the Ripper murders (Abberline being the lead Inspector), they never worked together, and probably never even met until the arrest of George Chapman, a Ripper suspect.
Abberline has an old looking 'graphophone' or perhaps phonograph in his flat. The 19th century equivalent of an iPod. At the time it should have looked brand-new, but this one has 100 years worth of blemishes.
Look, I bring everything for supper!
[snatches an envelope full of money]
You little thief! I need this money!
I only take some money to buy food. For me and for you. Was that bad, Marie?
It's fine, dear. But until I go away, it's not safe for you to go out by yourself.
[caresses Mary's face]
I stay with Marie, beautiful Marie.
It's alright, darling. You don't have to pay for your food.
Simply a fantastic movie
The critics, nit-pickers and historical pedants who've trashed this
superb piece of truly cinematic movie-making have totally missed the
So what if Johnny Depp's English accent isn't exactly "right" for his
character? (English accents have always been problematic for all but
the most skilled of American actors: Depp pulls it off entirely
passably, way way better than – say – Keanu Reeves, risible in
Coppola's Dracula. Think of Kevin Costner, who didn't even bother
trying in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.) I'm a Londoner by birth, and
for me the accent in no way detracted from Depp's excellent
As for history, again, who cares if the filmmakers have employed a
degree of dramatic licence? This is a movie, not a documentary. Nobody
knows for sure who Jack the Ripper was, and in order to make the film
interesting and enjoyable the writers have speculated a little. Fine by
OK, so Heather Graham was impossibly glamorous, but movies with big
budgets need a little bit of star appeal. The notion of the "tart with
a heart" is a cliché, sure, but nevertheless her character works in the
context of the film. (Contrast the depiction of prostitution generally
in this film with the utter garbage that is Pretty Woman.)
What's so great about this film? The quirky, literate script; the
performances (all, with the possible exception of Graham, excellent);
the wonderful photography and production design; the depiction of the
murders themselves – elliptical, shocking, mesmerising; and above all
the aura of brooding menace, gloom, cruelty, darkness, melancholy and
downright despair running through it as deeply as the veins through a
block of marble. This is marvellously thoughtful, evocative
film-making, very bold and brave. No happy Hollywood ending, no phoney
saccharine or cheap laughs to satisfy the popcorn brigade. This is a
proper grown-ups movie that probes some of the darkest regions of the
human psyche, places mainstream filmmakers like Lucas, Spielberg, James
Cameron and their ilk don't dare to go, or couldn't go even if they
wanted to. To me it appeals almost on a subconscious level, forcing us
to confront our deepest fears and taboos – death, pain, suffering,
human wickedness. I can't think of a recent major release that is so
Don't let the detractors put you off. It's hardly surprising a
generation weened on MTV – folk with the the attention span of a gnat
and the emotional depth of a paper cup – didn't like it. They've got
their Screams and their Scary Movies, and they're welcome to them. This
is super stuff, and the Hughes brothers and their collaborators should
be heartily congratulated for it.
A classic, not so much for the plot, which is a little contrived, but
for its sure command of cinema as a visual storytelling medium.