During the latter half of 1888, a notorious serial killer nicknamed Jack the Ripper terrorises the East End of London by murdering prostitutes in a terribly violent way. Public outrage follows. Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline is assigned to the case, but finds that it is not just a simple murder enquiry. Based on a real-life event, this movie claims to have had access to top secret Home Office files and believe that their ending is the correct solution to the age old mystery.Written by
Ripper victim Elizabeth "Long Liz" Stride was Swedish and would have spoken with a Swedish accent. See more »
An ad for Nestle's condensed milk can be seen on a double decker coach early in the second half. Alhough Nestle's is thought of as a Swiss company, its origins of the product go back as early as 1866 -1867 when American Charles Page, U.S.-Swiss consul, and his brother George Page,established the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company in Cham, Switzerland. Their first British operation was opened at Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 1873. It eventually merged and evolved into Nestle's Milk Chocolate in 1904-1905. See more »
Well, it's not perfect, but what is? This one is a cut above the others I've seen, in some of which the victims were all "dance hall girls" or whatever. I thought Michael Caine was a good as he usually is, which is to say, pretty good. The other performances were also above average. (I thought Lysette Anthony was Helena Bonham Carter grown inexplicably more mature with the receding years.) Armand Assante does a great job of turning into Mr. Hyde on stage. Jane Seymour is beautiful but takes up screen time that otherwise could be put to better use, granted that three and a half hours constitutes a lot of screen time. A problem, though is that there are too many red herrings, too many dead ends gone into at length, at the expense of more interesting material. Every theory dreamed up by any manque criminologist with a pulp sensibility has been dragged into the story, and some made up that have never before been proposed. (How about: Jack was an alien from outer space?) I'd like to have known more details about the cases -- the sign about the "Juwes" and the bag of "cashous" found by Nichols' body.
On the plus side, the crowded streets of 1888 London were colorfully evoked. The second murder took place in the small scruffy backyard of a tenement, next to a wooden fence, and to judge from the look of the scene the production designer worked directly from contemporary photographs. At least one of the props, a horse-drawn trolley with a Nestle ad, showed up virtually unchanged on Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street in the later Jeremy Brett series. Of course this isn't the REAL city. The London of the time would have been almost repellant as the lingering shots of the dismembered bodies which are mercifully absent from this film. This was industrial-strength capitalism in its most untrammeled form. What was glamorized as London "fog" we would nowadays call "smog" or simply "industrial smoke." In the absence of toilets, Whitechapel would have smelled like an outhouse.
Why did all those women go out alone at night? One reason may be similar to the one than prompts people to live in large coastal cities in California. Oh, I know it's going to happen, but it won't happen to me. Another is that they may not have had much choice in the matter at a point in history with no social security or unemployment or medicare. If a man lost his arm at work, he was fired and was out on the streets. If a woman with no skills and no independent means lost her husband, she was out on the streets too, wearing the signature apron of her trade. For a few minutes unpleasantness in a dark corner she might earn enough for a drink of gin or a flea-ridden bed. Failing that she might find a seat in the lowest of flophouses, where there were no beds at all, just parallel lines of chairs with long ropes strung in front of them for sleeping patrons to lean across. Most of the poor looked like hell. And felt like it too, what with debilitating infectious illnesses and decaying teeth. It wasn't a good time to be broke.
The problem with Ripper stories is that there is no satisfactory narrative conclusion, no neat ending, because the murderer was never discovered, let alone caught. Structurally it's a kind of coitus interruptus. So over the years we've pretended to solve it, using upstairs lodgers or effete royalty. The case file still exists but it's been so pared down over the years, through pilferage, loss, and souvenier hunting, that there are only a few original pages left.
My bet? In the FBI typology he was a disorganized murderer, operating impromptu. As someone said in another comment, he was probably a local nonentity. He probably lived alone and kept to himself. If anyone noticed him at all, they probably thought of him as slightly goofy for talking to himself, believing in magic, or whatever.
18 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this