2001's thriller FROM HELL casts Johnny Depp as a working-class cop, Inspector Frederick Abberline, who struggles to catch a savage serial killer preying on prostitutes in the Whitechapel section of London in 1888. Brilliant, honest, clairvoyant, and drug-addicted, Abberline finds his unorthodox methods stymied by his superiors; meanwhile, the elusive killer--known to us as Jack the Ripper—continues to strike. The film, directed with assurance by brothers Albert and Allen Hughes, features beautiful cinematography by Peter Deming and a stunning production design by Martin Childs, who used Prague to recreate Victorian Whitechapel. The strong supporting cast includes Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, and a cast-against-type Heather Graham as Mary Kelly, the prostitute who steals Abberline’s heart; Lesley Sharp, Susan Lynch, Annabelle Apsion and the remarkable Katrin Cartlidge portray other women whose profession brings them, disastrously, into the Ripper’s path.
FROM HELL "is an engrossing, hard-hitting, consistently well-acted picture," writes UK critic Philip French in The Observer. "Depp is very good as this decent, embattled man and [. . .] the depth Depp brings to his character is matched by the way the Hugheses flesh out the Ripper's five victims, admirably played by Heather Graham [. . .], Lesley Sharp, Annabelle Apsion and, especially, Katrin Cartlidge."
Roger Ebert sums up the film’s paradoxes this way: “Watching the film, I was surprised how consistently it surprised me. [. . . .] Despite its gothic look, FROM HELL is not in the Hammer horror genre. Despite its Sherlockian hero, it's not a Holmes and Watson story. Despite its murders, it's not a slasher film. What it is, I think, is a Guignol about a cross-section of a thoroughly rotten society, corrupted from the top down. The Ripper murders cut through layers of social class designed to insulate the sinners from the results of their sins.” The Hughes brothers bring a compassionate perspective to their unlucky characters: FROM HELL never forgets to indict the social inequities that permit the callous exploitation of the poor by the rich and powerful.
Our FROM HELL gallery was compiled from photos shared on the Johnny Depp Zone by audamay, Bon Bon, b. p. olive, Chocolat, humiliated grape, Joni, Moonbeam, Part-Time Poet, Pixie, sleepy, and Theresa. Many thanks to our members for their help with this project!