The Ripper (TV Movie 1997) Poster

(1997 TV Movie)

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9/10
Artistically admirable historical fiction
BrandtSponseller25 April 2005
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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7/10
Surprisingly Good for Movie Made for Television
claudio_carvalho4 February 2015
In 1888, in London, a prostitute is slaughtered on the street. The Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Jim Hansen (Patrick Bergin) is in charge of the investigation and realizes that the killer is a person with skill in dissection. Hansen belongs to the lower class and aspires to socially climb. Soon there are other murders and the ex-prostitute Florry Lewis (Gabrielle Anwar) witnesses the killer killing a prostitute and is forced to go to the precinct to provide a lead to the Scotland Yard. Inspector Hansen assigns Sgt. Tommy Bell (Adam Couper) to protect Florry and he investigates the murder cases. Prince Albert Victor (Samuel West), who is the heir of the throne of England, becomes his prime suspect but his chief Sir Charles Warren (Michael York) tells that they need to have strong evidences against the prince to proceed the case. Sir Warren decides to use Florry as bait but Inspector Hansen has fallen in love with her and objects. But his chief makes clear that this is the only way to stop the ripper. What will Inspector Hansen do?

"The Ripper" is a surprisingly good movie for television with a different version of Jack the Ripper. Great performances, engaging screenplay, wonderful locations and cinematography make this movie worthwhile watching. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Estripador" ("The Ripper")
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I've seen worse
quadrophenia7189 November 2001
Come on guys, give it a break. It wasn't all that bad. As an amateur historian on the history of England, I know perfectly well that it's HIGHLY unlikely that Prince Eddy did it. Proving who Jack the Ripper was, however, did not seem to be the main objective of the film. It was entertaining, no matter what its historical value is.

In casting Sam West as the villainous and elusive Prince Eddy, the filmmakers managed to take an actor that was so unbelievably wholesome looking and turn him in the epitome of evil. Sam West is one of my favorite actors and I admit that this may make me a little biased in his favor. BUT, his skill as an actor is undisputed by critics everywhere. His portrayal of Eddy made you hate him and pity him all at the same time. This is an extremely hard thing to do and I admire him for it. The fact that one knows that it is Prince Eddy from almost the first scene makes this even more apparent.

Patrick Bergin seemed to play backseat, but his subtle East End accent and pure innocence in the ways of polite Victorian society, made him the perfect actor for the character. Perhaps if his character had been slightly more developed, he could have stepped to the same level as West, but the script did not allow for it. Given what he was given, I think that Bergin did a wonderful job.

Gabrielle Anwar did a good job as the feisty ex-prostitute heroine, but her character wasn't given much breathing space. She was playing a stereotype and this was one of the things that annoyed me greatly. The character of Florie seemed to play into the stereotype of saucy-romance-novel heroine. Perhaps if she had not been so tragically good, brought down by her surroundings, it might have been more tolerable, but as her character was predictable (though of course admirable), it would have been better for the film.

Michael York irritated me, but that's probably just too much prejudice on my part anyway. Apart from a few complaints about the story-line (the romance aspect), I think that the film set out what it meant to accomplish--to prove both that royalty is fallible (and periodically homicidal, though this might be a bit of a stretch given the world's current monarchs) and that you can't always judge a book by its cover. Apart from the sadistic little moustache (the height of fashion at the time--everyone was doing it), Sam West appears to be the perfect company. Except the fact that he's a homicidal maniac inside. That might dampen dinner a bit.

Overall, not bad. Rent it, don't recommend buying it unless you're a die-hard Sam West/Patrick Bergin fan. You probably won't be hideously disappointed unless you're a Ripper-ologist, in which case, you might want to skip it because its little historical inaccuracies are irritating. The acting, however, will not disappoint.
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7/10
Fictionalized but with good acting
leftyguns22 March 2005
As a Police Officer I have always been intrigued by unsolved murders. When some one mentions unsolved murders the "White Chapel" murders attributed to "Jack the Ripper" comes to mind.

Though this film "The Ripper" is highly fictionalized, what it lacks in facts it more than makes up in acting, and authenticity in details of the period.

Patrick Bergin, and Gabrielle Anwar portray the parts of Scotland Yard Police inspector, and former prostitute , to perfection. More than a crime story It is about the relationship which develops between Bergin (the police inspector) and Anwar(a former prostitute ) . Anwar has left prostitution behind, and is by that time working in a factory. Her life takes a turn when she witnesses one of the murders, but is reluctant to come forward because of the way she's treated by most of the police. Bergin unlike the others gives her police protection, and the two eventually become romantically involved.

What made this film great was the way that the inequities of the Victorian era is portrayed. All from the separation of the classes. To the scenery, and last but not least the Superb acting of the cast.

If you're looking for historical facts about the "White Chapel Murders" this film is not for you. But if you can watch this film keeping in mind that it is not a documentary , or historical epic, and that the writer used extensive "creative license" then you must see it.
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7/10
A royal carve up
benbrae7611 September 2006
Treat this as a love story (albeit a little insipid) amid the gruesome goings-on in Ripperland, but not as a theory in Ripperology, and it turns out to be not a bad movie...not a good one...but I've seen worse.

The suspect is not a hot favourite with Ripperologists (or me), but he cannot be totally discounted. Although apparently the prince supposedly had cast iron alibis on each occasion of the murders, the Establishment (as was inferred by the movie) could quite easily have fabricated them and instigated a cover-up. (And royalty-bashing always seems to be a popular pastime. Security in the palace too, seems to have been as lax then as it is today.) Patrick Bergin although putting in a reasonable performance as Inspector Hansen was, to my mind, totally miscast. His Cockney accent seemed to be more a mixture of an Irish brogue and an Aussie drawl with just a soupçon of "'ow's yer father" thrown in. His side-kick was even worse. Still I suppose Michael Caine couldn't really be approached again, considering he'd already portrayed the real-life character of Inspector Aberline. Plus the fact that he'd probably have avoided this like the plague...(or "Swarm: the sequel").

Samuel West, reliable as ever, played the royal rip with gusto, and looked as if he actually enjoyed the role. I suppose "hamming it" would be more accurate. However, as far as the acting went, he was the pick of the bunch.

I don't honestly think this piece of hokum was meant to be a serious contender for the final solution. The story could just have easily been set in any Murder Mystery movie, but without the same impact. Nothing like a bit of Rippermania to set the pulses racing.

Everybody wants to be the one to discover the identity of the Whitechapel killer, but to do that ALL the facts have to be considered, and you won't find them here. Just enjoy the movie for what it is. Entertainment...of a sort.
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10/10
What a great story.
volfing5 January 2002
Even though there a some historical mistakes in the story, i found the story and the great acting, fantastic.

Patrick Bergin is always a pleasure and good old Michael York has great charisma as Sir. Charles Warren.

It is the great script by Robert Rodat and Samuel West marvellous performance as the diabolic Prince Eddy, which makes this movie so brilliant.

If you are a Ripperologist ( i am... ) you might hate this movie, but i found it entertaining as hell.
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Terrible movie, great actors, unnecessary love story.
SMeier-26 August 1999
This was terrible! I guess it's a very romantic notion that the Heir Presumptive could have been "Jack the Ripper," but since there's proof that he was out of the country when most of the murders were committed, why even try? Also, why throw in the love story? Just for the sake of it? It's too bad that these fine actors were wasted on such an awful concept. Samuel West, especially, is one actor I'd like to see in more movies stateside.
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Nicely done, interesting take on Jack the Ripper
suzdal23 November 1998
Not blazingly original, but still a well made film about the infamous Ripper murders. The cast is good, Bergin and Anwar are excellent and West is perfectly cast. Costuming, atmosphere and the like are up to big screen standards. Events and characters are modified a little for dramatic purposes, so true blue Ripper enthusiasts might find fault, but recommended for fans of Victorian period movies and general thriller/mysteries.
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1/10
Just too inaccurate to enjoy.
brianj-goodinson8 March 2016
Yes, I know it's fiction but they could have at least made an attempt to get the known facts right. It's full of holes, crime scene photo of Mary Kelly (still alive at that stage), Prince Eddy was never at Eton (privately educated in the Royal household together with his brother George), he was NOT the heir to the throne (second in line). Other than Sir Charles Warren, the police officers are totally fictitious.

Other than Samuel West, the accents are shockingly bad. Maybe Americans think Londoners have an Aussie twang (& Aussies wouldn't care) but I'm afraid it's just very bad voice coaching. Dick Van Dyke did a better job!

I know it's entertainment but shockingly researched tripe like this just irks.

Watch any (or most) of the many films on this subject and you'll have a more enjoyable time and a more accurate story.
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3/10
Dull with some dire acting
HumanSpecies10 September 2004
Films about Jack The Ripper have been done before so many times and this one reworks the old discredited idea that the Ripper was the Duke of Clarence. Its been done before and much better. The acting, particularly Patrick Bergin and whoever plays his sergeant, is dire. Phoney cockney accents abound. The script is pretty wobbly in places and things proceed at a slow pace to a somewhat dull climax. Thank's to the rest of the cast of decent British actors (Sam West, Michael York etc) its not totally dreadful. If you are interested in seeing a much better take on this idea check out Murder By Decree.It might be old now but it is so superior.
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3/10
It's difficult to ignore the fact that they have ignored the real facts.
Sulla-220 August 2005
For somebody who knows absolutely nothing about the Whitechapel Murders, this would be a watchable film. The problem is that when you have a basic knowledge of the actual facts , it becomes very difficult to watch so many glaring errors. It is a fact that Prince Albert was in Scotland at the time of the murders and could not have done them. Could anyone imagine Prince William escaping his minders for a few hours to do a few murders. The crimes were in the wrong order. The Police Officers had the wrong names ( What on earth is a Deputy Chief Inspector ?)Even the buildings were wrong. Most of the houses were made of stone in the film, whereas WhiteChapel would be almost all brick.
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3/10
Poor adaptation of "Jack The Ripper"
tsmithjr10 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"The Ripper" (1997) is a less than average adaptation of "Jack The Ripper". The "Jack The Ripper" version staring Michael Cane is probably the best portrayal of the "Jack The Ripper" story.

"The Ripper" (1997) never really hits a pace and just pokes at different areas of the "Jack The Ripper" case. *** POSSIBLE SPOILER *** "The Ripper" tries and fails to insert a minor love story involving the chief inspector of the case and a hooker who may have been a witness. It's absolutely foolish, whether it's true or not. Very little effort was put into making this story.

Maybe I am spoiled because "CSI" (a US television show about a Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigation team) goes into intricate detail resolving crimes. But in this case "The Ripper" (1997) fails.

"The Ripper" (1997) produces some minor evidence and the rest is simply fluff, filled with stuffy bureaucratic gatherings and what the producer/director/screen play folks believe the political bureaucracy of the time was.
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7/10
Wrong killer.
sbox4 January 1999
Entertaining and proof that you can make film noir on a tight budget. The sets and costuming are well done, although the electrical conduits seen in several scenes are annoying to the discernible eye.

I rate this a favorable film despite what should be a fatal flaw. Albert Victor could not have committed these crimes. The consensus among Whitechapel Murder Scholars denounce royal involvement.

Oh well, its just a movie, and as such it is worth viewing.
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1/10
AWFUL BEYOND WORDS
phoebers23 June 1999
This is the most historically inaccurate Ripper movie ever. Unbelievable. They took such artistic liberties with the story that it was laughable by the end. At one point, a photo of the Ripper's (real-life) final, most gruesome murder is shown to a witness...who has supposedly just witnessed the third or maybe fourth murder. I'm not even going to get into the absurdity of the Ripper's identity in the movie. It's an absolutely stupid and awful movie.
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I should have gone to sleep
stevebanana9 September 2004
Stayed up late to watch this on TV, being a bit of a J the R geek, always ready to read or see another take on the mystery. Oh my... Almost every known fact was either omitted, twisted or misused to serve a half-baked and ludicrous movie. It would have been more logical to make this a complete fiction and call the criminal Bert The Slasher, cos this has nothing to do with the London murders of 1888. I know it's 'just a film', and actually the true story wouldn't be very satisfactorily filmic, as there's no structure, no love story and the villain remains unknown, but a few arty cuts (no pun intended) and camera angles don't make this a good film. Bergin's accent wobbles, and West's pantomime psycho act makes the best of a potty script, but really, there are better things to be doing at 1 a.m. than watching this nonsense.
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Lesser Version of the Story
Michael_Elliott18 July 2010
Ripper, The (1997)

** (out of 4)

Yet another version of the story of Jack the Ripper with Patrick Bergin playing Insp. Jim Henson, the man investigating the murders of various prostitutes. He strikes up a relationship with an on-again, off-again prostitute (Gabrielle Anwar) who just happened to witness one of the crimes. This film lets us know at the very start that Prince Albert Victor Edward committed the murders and the rest of the film is pretty much Bergin trying to catch who it is. We sit back as we watch the investigation and eventually the reasons why Prince Edward was never arrested for the murders. Many Ripper buffs say it was impossible for Edward to have been the real killer so they're probably not going to care too much for this film but this is a movie and not trying to be any sort of documentary. With that said, there are a few interesting things going on here but the 100-minute running time feels triple that and in the end there's just not enough stuff working here to make it worth sitting through. The biggest problem is the directing, which is hard to spot as it's clear Meyers doesn't have control of the story and she can't manage to get it on the screen in any sort of entertaining way. The film's pacing is incredibly bad because it feels like molasses as one scene just drags to the point where you feel the entire movie is about over with then you notice the section you've been watching only lasted a couple minutes. What does work are the ideas about the various forms of people and how much they hated one another. One subplot involves the rich feeling that Bergin is just wasting his time because there's nothing wrong with someone killing the "scum" on the streets. You even have a group feeling that it's a Jewish man doing the killings. You also have the poor resenting the police and refuses to help because they feel that the police don't care about them. These items are the most interesting thing working here but the direction keeps them from really being something special. Both Bergin and Anwar turn in good performances as does Samuel West as Prince Albert. There have probably been just as many Ripper movies as actual myths about the man and they're all of mixed quality. The mysterious around the case is what keeps the legend growing but this film here isn't one of the betters one out there and is for completest only.
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Unbelievable In Breadth!
vesperma23 May 1999
I loved this film. I am a lover of british movies and found this one to be unbelievable. I feel the theories about Jack The Ripper are put to rest in this film. I feel the actors were superb and the play it is based on is awesome as well.
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