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Film / From Hell

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From Hell is a 2001 thriller directed by the Hughes Brothers, starring Johnny Depp and based on the Alan Moore comic of the same name.

The film provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Johnny Depp as Inspector Abberline is more attractive than he's drawn in the comic, where he's based on Robbie Coltrane. Ironically, Coltrane was cast in a different role.
    • A phenomenal case of Comically Missing the Point is that the prostitutes/victims are far more attractive than in the realistic book where they look just like underfed women who live in slums would look like. Moore specifically denounced this trope when portraying them in the book, taking away the exploitation aspect in representing them which this film enforces with a straight face.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Ann Crook is lobotomized to keep her from spilling the truth. However, lobotomies weren't actually practiced until the 1930s, and the patient was usually awake during the procedure. In the graphic novel, Gull just damaged/removed Anne's thyroid gland.
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  • And I Must Scream: Ann Bound and Gagged and used for a lobotomy demonstration.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Depp's character gains access to Ben Kidney's office by intimidating the night porter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The hero kills himself and the villain evades justice, but gets a lobotomy. Mary Kelly survives and returns to Ireland with Ann's child, safe from Gull and the government.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Sir William Gull a.k.a Jack The Ripper shows these for a moment.
  • Composite Character: Johnny Depp's character is a cross between Abberline and Robert Lees, though physically he resembles Prince Eddy more closely.
  • Connect the Deaths: Inspector Abberline does this on a map.
  • Death by Childbirth: Abberline's wife died giving birth to their son.
  • Dies Wide Open: One of the victims died this way.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: A meta-subversion. One of the deleted scenes opens with a naked girl stepping out of a bath, followed by a dramatic bit having nothing to do with her. Per the commentary, the scene was deleted because the girl was so sexy, the audience was in the wrong mood for the drama.
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  • Eagle-Eye Detection
  • Eye Scream: "I could pop your eye out...they don't care if a whore can't see."
  • A Glass of Chianti: The villain is seen sipping blood from a wine glass.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: Said by Sergeant Godley after Abberline dies of a drug overdose.
  • Grapes of Luxury: Used to lure victims into the fangs of The Ripper.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Uttered by one of the prostitutes before heading out for some hooch.
  • Instant Sedation: Justified, inhaled anesthetics prior to Ann's lobotomy.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Averted, because it's rather her enemies. Abberline knows perfectly well that Mary survived, but decides not follow her to Ireland because, if it became clear that she survived that night, Mary would be hunted down and silenced.
  • Lobotomy: A man is shown demonstrating how to perform a lobotomy to a group of medical students. Several characters have had one done.
  • Lighter and Softer: The movie retains the somber mood of the original and adds some dark elements (in the graphic novel Ann Crook was not a prostitute, Abberline didn't kill himself but is an elderly narrator, Gull wasn't lobotomized (although he developed dementia and was institutionalized by Freemasons) etc. But on the whole the film is nowhere as dark as the original which tended to make Gull and Mary Kelly the protagonists and Abberline a kind of a third protagonist but stressed less than the other two. It specifically criticized the idea of a heroic "detective" solving the crime whereas Abberline is more heroic and is more active, and younger than the original. Especially the Nightmare Fuel chapter of Gull mutilating the final victim.
  • Madness Mantra: Ann has several, but then again, she has had a rather extensive lobotomy.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If only the police had warned the public about the Grapes of Luxury used by The Ripper...
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The film's one clever moment was how it efficiently replaced the visual montage of how ordinary people wrote phony letters claiming to be from Jack the Ripper with a quick scene in which the detectives read those letters with each being read with a different voice.
    • Ann Crook is rendered catatonic by being lobotomized, while in the graphic novel she had her thyroid gland damaged/removed. The process was probably changed because the audience might not be aware that loss of the thyroid gland without appropriate drugs can result in impairment of mental processes - whereas pretty much everyone knows that having a chunk of your brain cut out is almost never good for you.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Subverted. Abberline gets his line in ("You're not going to see the 20th century"), then walks towards Gull, raises his gun and ... gets a Tap on the Head from Ben Kidney, whom he did not see approaching.
  • Psychic Powers: Abberline has these in the movie, linked to opium use-hallucinations were commonly thought of as divinations.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The cult circle.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table / Bound and Gagged: And used for a lobotomy demonstration.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Ann Crook had a beautiful crown of curly golden hair, but it's all but shorn off in the mental institution.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The original graphic novel is heavily based on Moore and Campbell's mountains of research and the appendices are careful to separate historical truth from semi-fictionalized conspiracy theories that simply make a good story, to outright invention on their part. The movie disregards this, and the real, historical lives of the film's characters, completely.
  • Victorian London: The setting.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Try to guess which unfortunate girl is the future love interest. Though this is actually and surprisingly in line with history; Mary Kelly was considerably younger and prettier than the other Ripper victims.
  • Wretched Hive: London of the late 1880s as depicted certainly qualifies as one.


Example of: