Top positive review
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Excellently constructed telling of the story.
on 6 March 2011
"For over 100 years the murders in Whitechapel committed by Jack the Ripper have baffled the World. What you are about to see is a dramatisation of these events. Our story is based on extensive research, including a review of the official files by special permission of the Home Office and interviews with leading criminologists and Scotland Yard officials."
Jack The Ripper is produced out of Euston Films and is directed by David Wickes who also co-wrote it with Derek Marlowe. Released to coincide with the 100 years anniversary of the murders, it stars Michael Caine (Frederick Abberline), Armand Assante (Richard Mansfield), Ray McAnally (Sir William Gull), Lewis Collins (Sgt. George Godley), Ken Bones (Robert James Lees), Susan George (Catherine 'Kate' Eddowes) & Jane Seymour (Emma Prentiss).
Originally released as a TV mini-series in the United Kingdom, Jack The Ripper has long since been available to view as a three hour ten minute movie. Every second of which is worth sitting thru. For his story Wickes uses actual historical characters that were involved in the 1888 hunt for the notorious killer. Drawing heavily from the Masonic/Royal Family conspiracy theory that has been used before in tellings of the story (notably the film Murder By Decree born out of Thomas E. A. Stowell's theory), Wickes boldly proclaimed to be revealing the true identity of the Ripper. Something that unsurprisingly he was forced to recant, but regardless of that, this is a glorious telling, meticulous in detail and providing much food for thought.
In amongst the grizzly murders and the fraught search for the killer by the exasperated police, Wickes' movie fully forms the other issues to hand. Such as the role of the press during this dark time and why was George Lusk leading vigilante's across Whitechapel? The Government and Royal Family aspects are given screen time because that's how high the issue went. The pressure on Abberline from his superiors is told in full, as the murders start to escalate and Abberline runs up against questionable assistance during the investigation, his anger grows. We are with him every step of the way. The prostitutes aren't merely Ripper fodder characters either, we at least meet them, understand them, even seeing the role of the "pimp" in Victorian England. It's good stuff, well researched.
Technically, for a TV movie, its production value is very high. Great sets that bring to life Victorian England (the exteriors were actually shot in Belper, Derbyshire), the costumes catch the eye and the cast are hugely effective. Particularly Caine (throwing himself into the role) and Assante (switching his character's emotional state regularly with consummate ease). We also get the chill factor too, something that's needed in a film of such dark thematics. As the street girls walk alone in dimly lit cobbled streets, the air of unease is palpable. Then a silhouette of the man with the hat, cloak and bag brings a cold shiver down the spine. Witness to the sequences involving the play Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a nice put in to the plot by the writers, and one that provides genuinely creepy moments. It's a top film that has so much going for it.
There will be other Jack The Ripper film's no doubt, and for sure more books will arrive proclaiming this and that is true. But with this take, if you buy into the theory or not, is probably as good as it gets for detail and execution of the material. 9/10