From Hell (2001) Poster



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(at around 1h 45 mins) After the Ripper has killed his final victim, the police officer describes the scene so that it can be written down as evidence. Those lines are taken directly from the report of the actual crime scene.
Some of the real photos from the Ripper victims are pinned to the walls in the police station sets; the directors placed them there to unnerve the cast so they'd give an edgier performance after having seen the real victims.
Great care was taken to accurately reproduce the actual sites of the "Ripper" murders. Illustrations and actual photographs from 1888 were used. Similar care was used to reproduce the wounds inflicted upon the Ripper's victims.
Commissioner of Police Charles Warren never really arrived at the site of the fifth victim because he had resigned shortly before her murder. Strangely, before his resignation, he ordered that no police officer was to enter the scene until he arrived (which is strange because all of the past victims had been killed on the street) and as a result, no officer or investigator entered the building for three hours because they were unaware of his resignation.
By avoiding giving dates to specific scenes, the movie makes it seem that the Ripper murders occurred in a much shorter amount of time than in reality, which was 31 August to 9 November. The investigation continued for many years after 1888.
The Hughes Brothers originally wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to play the lead role. When that fell through, they interviewed Sean Connery, Jude Law and Brad Pitt before settling on Johnny Depp.
Though there were many rumors (and speculations) as to whether the victims knew each other, there is no real evidence that they did.
According to John Douglas (creator of criminal profiling) the Ripper murders were the work of a disorganized, paranoid personality, not the calculating one shown in the film.
The late Nigel Hawthorne was originally cast as Sir William Gull. Hawthorne was replaced by Ian Holm, his The Madness of King George (1994) costar, when his cancer prevented him from working. He died in 2001, the same year the movie was released.
The crew built four blocks of Whitechapel on location in Prague, including half a church.
(at around 45 mins) The medical council announcer introduces the Elephant Man as Joseph Merrick, then Merrick's benefactor Dr. Treves "corrects" him, so he calls him John Merrick. Merrick's given name was Joseph, but Frederick Treves insisted on calling him John in his reports, deliberately crossing out Joseph. It is not known why Treves did this, but Merrick always called himself Joseph and never John, so historians always call him Joseph Merrick.
Sgt. Peter Godley knows his William Shakespeare: He quotes from "Hamlet" twice (". . . I must be cruel only to be kind . . . ", "Good night sweet prince . . . "), from "Romeo and Juliet" (". . . a rose by any other name . . . ") and from "Henry V" ("Once more unto the breach, dear friends . . . "). He also references Othello.
The first person who signed on to the film was composer Trevor Jones, who stuck with the project since its conception in 1998 and finally composed and recorded his score for the film in early 2001.
Around the same time, William Friedkin was trying to set up " The Diary of Jack the Ripper " with Anthony Hopkins.
The movie is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, and while some scenes are straight out of the comic, the approach is entirely different. The comic is not a mystery, but follows the killer throughout, only considering Inspector Abberline in a few chapters in the second half. The psychic is a separate character in the book, and admits in the first few pages that his visions are imaginary.
Film debut of Dominic Cooper.
In his book "Jack the ripper the secret of Mary Jane K" published in France in 2006, paranormal investigator Philippe R. Welte brings evidences that the ripper was a French doctor in love with Mary Kelly. In this book - A 20 years investigation - every murder is clearly motivated.
As is revealed later on in the film, many of the main characters - such as Jack the Ripper himself, Dr. Ferral, sir William Gull, Prince Edward Albert Victor, and Sir Charles Warren, among others - can be identified as being Freemasons by their rings bearing the Freemasonic symbol of the "square and compass". The killer's amputation kit also bears this symbol.
The ceremony that the character of Dr. Ferral is partaking in halfway through the movie is a Freemasonic initiation ritual. During this particular ritual, the candidate (Dr. Ferral) is initiated into the very first degree of Freemasonry called "Entered Apprentice".

For this ritual the candidate is stripped of all his clothes except his shirt, and is clothed in a pair of drawers kept in the lodge for the use of candidates. The candidate is then blindfolded - which masons refer to as "hoodwinking" - and a rope called a Cable-tow is hung around is neck. His left foot is bare, his right in a slipper, and his left breast and arm are naked. After a lengthy ritual the candidate is finally ordered to kneel on his left knee, place his right hand on the square and compass, and raise his left hand in the air. He is then ordered to give the solemn oath of secrecy. In every ritual degree of Freemasonry the candidate is required to take an oath and is warned of the hideous and grotesque penalty that awaits him if he dares ever to reveal any of the group's innermost secrets.

In this first degree oath of Freemasonry, as is depicted in the movie, the candidate declares: "...binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by its roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea, at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, should I ever knowingly violate this my Entered Apprentice obligation."
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In the movie George Lusk arrives with half a kidney and the infamous 'From Hell' letter after only 2 of the canonical 5 victims have been killed, suggesting the kidney was from Annie Chapman. In reality this did not occur until much later and was believed to have come from the 4th victim Katherine Eddowes.
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(at around 26 mins) During the discussion between Inspector Frederick Abberline and the police chief, the chief holds up a flyer for a show by Buffalo Bill. Though in context this is the performance name of war-hero-turned-circus-performer William F. Cody, it was also the name of a fictional serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Final film of Katrin Cartlidge.
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Just as is depicted in the movie, many high-ranking officials or other prominent figures are often members of a secret society such as the Order of Freemasonry. For instance: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, J. Edgar Hoover, Silvio Berlusconi, Shaquille O'Neal, Henry Ford, Steve Wozniak, and Michael A. Richards, to name just a few, were or are all initiated members of the secret Order of Freemasonry. Whereas, for instance, George W. Bush, John Kerry, and Paul Giamatti are initiated members of the Order of Skull and Bones which was founded in 1832 at Yale University. Members of this order are generally referred to as 'Bonesmen'.
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This isn't Paul Rhys' (Dr. Ferral) first time appearing in a film about the Jack the Ripper. He had previously appeared as the leading man in the 1999 Ripper film "Loves Lies Bleeding".
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Johnny Depp's character was based on a real person, Inspector Frederick Abberline of Scotland Yard, who was in charge of the investigation in the East End. The real Frederick Abberline however was neither a dope addict nor a supposed clairvoyant, and did not die shortly after the investigation, nor in Hong Kong (as shown in the special features alternate ending). He died in 1929 in England, aged 86. Robbie Coltrane's character Peter Godley is loosely based on Essex born George Godley, who at the time of the Ripper murders was a sergeant at Bethnal Green.
The final murder, of (supposedly) Mary Kelly, was the only one depicted in the film that didn't exactly follow the wound patterns found on the actual victim in 1888. The scene was toned down because that murder, Jack the Ripper's last, was so gruesome that the producers feared an NC-17 rating had they actually shown a likeness of the victim, whose was found with both breasts severed, every facial feature slashed and torn, and the belly cut open. Her intestines were hung about the room like Christmas garlands. There is a well-known photograph of this victim, still in her death pose, that is included in almost every book about the Ripper murders.
The first murder is committed by McQueen, not Jack.
The dates of the Ripper victims' deaths are as follows: Mary Ann Nichols: 31st August 1888. Annie Chapman: 8th September 1888. Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes: 30th September 1888. Mary Jane Kelly: 9th November 1888.
The Alan Moore graphic novel on which this film was based contains an epilogue entitled "Dance of the Gull Catchers". In it Moore comments on the spectacle that now surrounds the Ripper murders, with one panel mocking the idea of the book being turned into a movie.
at around 1h 14 mins) In the movie George Lusk arrives with half a kidney and the infamous "From Hell" letter after only two of the five victims have been killed, suggesting the kidney was from Annie Chapman. In reality this did not occur until much later and the kidney was believed to have come from the fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes.

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