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The Ripper (1997)

This telling of the story of Jack the Ripper focuses not on the killings as much as on the aristocratic lives of the people connected to the heir-apparent to the throne of England... who of... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Insp. Jim Hansen
...
Florry Lewis
...
...
Adam Couper ...
Sgt Tommy Bell
...
Evelyn Bookman
Olivia Hamnett ...
Lady Margaret
Karen Davitt ...
Damien Pree ...
Officer Peters
...
Cullen
Kevin Miles ...
Sir William Fraser
John Gregg ...
Frank Whitten ...
Dr. Pearce
...
Chalmers
Josephine Keen ...
Lizzie
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Storyline

This telling of the story of Jack the Ripper focuses not on the killings as much as on the aristocratic lives of the people connected to the heir-apparent to the throne of England... who of course is the Ripper. It tells also of the investigator who dares to charge this man with such crimes, and of his love for a witness to one of the brutal slayings. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and sexuality | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

6 December 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A hasfelmetsző  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Cinevex)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Samuel West previously played Prince Albert Victor Edward as a young child in Edward the King (1975) in which his father Timothy West played the title role. See more »

Goofs

The chalk graffiti was never photographed. Sir Charles Warren ordered it to be erased out of fear that it could cause a riot due to the Anti-Semitic feelings within the community. See more »

Connections

Version of A Study in Terror (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

AU BORD DU TEMPLE SAINT
(from LES PECHEURS DES PERLES)
Music by Georges Bizet
Lyrics by Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon
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User Reviews

 
Artistically admirable historical fiction
25 April 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Yet another fictionalized film version of the Jack the Ripper story, The Ripper is a made for television film produced in Australia, using a cast mostly from that country and the UK. The focus in this version is Patrick Bergin as James Hansen, the chief inspector on the Jack the Ripper case, as well as his involvement with the upper class, including Prince Albert Victor Edward (Samuel West). There are also two romantic interests for Hansen--Florry Lewis (Gabrielle Anwar), a on-again/off-again prostitute who witnesses the killer leaving a crime scene, and Evelyn Bookman (Essie Davis), whom Hansen's aristocratic associates are trying to set him up with.

I wish I didn't have to repeat this in yet another review, but The Ripper is not a documentary, folks. Yes, it's obviously based on the Jack the Ripper case and various theories about it, but this is fiction, not fact. The film is no worse for not matching facts you know about the case, or for not matching what you consider to be plausible theories. The only thing you demonstrate when you point out "discrepancies" or "factual errors" in this film is that you can't grasp the distinction between fiction based on actual events and a documentary. If you're looking for a documentary on Jack the Ripper, there have been at least 10 made; check one of those out. You should only be watching The Ripper if you're interested in a fine filmic artwork set in late Victorian England that has a strong thriller thread under its period drama that is loosely based on Jack the Ripper.

One of the first things that stand out while watching The Ripper is its excellent visual style, which is especially impressive in light of the fact that this had to be a lower budget film. Under the skilled guidance of director Janet Myers, who only directed one other film prior to this one, the cinematography, lighting and production design--including the locations and sets as well as the costumes--are exemplary.

The cinematography and lighting dwell on a range of browns and grays, giving something like the sepia-toned nostalgic atmosphere of looking at old photographs, but at the same time nothing about it feels artificial; it's very naturalistic. The colors are not achieved through any kind of unusual film processing, as is often the case in recent genre films. Myers contrasts this often, especially in the beginning, with the rich red blood of Ripper victims. She also returns to a similar red throughout the film as a symbolic motif. For example, we see an appropriate character sitting on a rich red couch at one point (and with a woman on his right hand side, oddly distanced from him and looking uncomfortable).

The locations, sets and costumes authentically transport you to another time and place, even if they do not happen to be exactly correct per the actual world of late 19th Century London. And while in a lesser film the relative lack of humor might be a detriment--the dialogue by scriptwriter Robert Rodat is just as fervently period (in this case meaning more literary and a bit staid) as the production design. Here it helps immerse the viewer into The Ripper's world.

While horror is of course a focus, this version of the Jack the Ripper story leans much more heavily on dramatic complexities, which are fascinating. Hansen is from Florry's lower class, east-end world, but he's trying to adapt himself to another milieu. For one, that seems to be the only way of guaranteeing job stability and promotion. But we can see him inexorably drawn back to his roots, both in his growing interest in Florry and in his immersion in the Ripper case. His roots make him the only sensible candidate for solving the crime, as he has both an intimate knowledge of the world that has been most deeply affected by The Ripper and an outsider stance that enables him to more "objectively" look at the suspects. The film becomes a battle between two social worlds, with Hansen consistently torn between loyalties and interests. Given such a focus, The Ripper can only succeed if the performances are up to par. Fortunately, everyone is spot on.

This is not to say that there are not more visceral attributes, as well as an intriguing touch of police procedural characteristics--even including actual photographs of Jack the Ripper's victims, which are a nice production design touch, despite the complaints from the documentarians that the photos are factually "off" from the plot. And for that matter, there are a great many interesting facts about the Jack the Ripper case incorporated into the film, including a lot of minutiae surrounding the execution and investigation into the crimes. They may be transformed to fit this historically fictional plot better, and of course the theory about the killer championed in the film has been largely discredited by historians, but even a modicum of research will show a number of intriguing correlations between the thriller/horror aspects of the film and the real case.

This is a lamentably little-known film--I had never even heard of it before. I just happened upon it by accident one day while surfing the movie choices on DirecTV. Let's hope it eventually becomes available on DVD. It deserves a far weightier consideration as an artwork than it has received so far--this was nearly a 10 for me.


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