From Hell (2001) - Synopsis
"One day men will look back and say I gave birth to the twentieth century. "
-- Jack the Ripper
He is fear and darkness.
The first tabloid star of the twentieth century, he remains the most notorious and enigmatic serial killer in history.
Jack the Ripper committed five heinous, ritualistic murders during a ten-week span in London in the fall of 1888, creating a frenzied atmosphere of gossip, rumor and terror. He was never caught.
Based on a popular graphic novel, From Hell (2001) puts an intense psychological spin on the horrific legend of Jack the Ripper and unravels a chilling alleged conspiracy involving the highest powers in England.
Starring Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Jason Flemyng and Robbie Coltrane, From Hell (2001) is directed and executive produced by Allen and Albert Hughes (Dead Presidents (1995), Menace II Society (1993), American Pimp (1999)). The film also is executive produced by Amy Robinson (Autumn in New York (2000)) and Thomas M. Hammel. The producers are Don Murphy (Bully (2001), Natural Born Killers (1994)) and Jane Hamsher (Natural Born Killers (1994)).
Based on a screenplay by Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias, FROM HELL (2001) is an Underworld Pictures / Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher / Amy Robinson production. The cast features Lesley Sharp ("Full Monty, The (1997)"), Susan Lynch ("Waking Ned (1998) "), Katrin Cartlidge ("Breaking The Waves (1996)") and Terence Harvey ("Prime Suspect").
The movie's principal locations include several historic castles outside Prague and a large re-creation of the Whitechapel district of London where the murders occurred. Constructed on a 20-acre site near the famed Barrandov Studios, the Whitechapel set is an accurate rendering of the buildings and narrow cobblestone alleys of the infamous area where five indigent prostitutes met their grisly fates.
The film's sets were created by Academy Award®®-winning production designer Martin Childs ("Shakespeare in Love") and built by his team of seventy artists and carpenters.
There are more than sixty speaking parts in FROM HELL (2001), and several scenes required some two hundred and fifty extras dressed in period Victorian England costumes or disheveled street rags. Costume designer Kym Barrett ("Matrix, The (1999)," "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996)") and her staff created more than four hundred outfits for the film.
Filmmakers include director of photography Peter Deming, ASC ("Scream 2 (1997)," "Scream 3 (2000)," "Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery (1997)") , who caught the Hughes brothers' attention with his moody photography on "Lost Highway (1997)," and special make-up effects house Millennium Effects, whose credits include "Saving Private Ryan (1998)" and "Gladiator (2000). " Acclaimed industry veteran George Gibbs ("Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade") is special effects supervisor. The editors are Dan Lebental ("Dead Presidents (1995)") and George Bowers, A. C. E. ("How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)") and the composer is Trevor Jones ("Notting Hill (1999)").
While From Hell (2001) may appear to be a departure for the Hughes brothers, known for contemporary inner-city dramas, their affinity for the Ripper story stems from the climate of 1888 London. The city's vast disparity of wealth produced masses of poor and indigent, many of whom congregated in an area known as Whitechapel. The dirty, seamy slum was a haven for drug use, prostitution, alcoholism and random street crime.
Says Albert Hughes, "This is a ghetto story. It concerns poverty, violence and corruption, which are themes we deal with in our movies because they fascinate us. These particular characters happen to be white, but all poor people have the same problems.
"What also intrigued us was the psychology of Jack the Ripper - his behavior and the hysteria he incited. "
Allen Hughes states, "Previous accounts of this story have been antiseptic, told from the eyes of the prim upper class. We're revealing it from the perspective of the people who lived in squalor, in the neighborhood where this terror was inflicted. "