From Hell

Question: Was Ian Holm using contact lenses, or did they do something with his eyes in post production? From the scene where Abberline asks about the Free Masons and onwards his eyes are considerably darker (a deliberate effect I take it).

Chosen answer: His eyes are not just darker, his entire eyes are completely black. This was done by CGI effects to show that the murderous Ripper side to Gull's persona is taking over and is in control.

Twotall

Question: Why is it a "known fact" that Mary Kelley was killed by Jack the Ripper? Her murder differs in many ways from the others. She was killed indoors, she wasn't wearing any clothes, her body was so savaged that she was unrecognisable. The other murders took place outdoors with victims fully dressed and only partly savaged. Considering the number of violent deaths that took place in London at this time (most of them by slashing the throat) she could have been murdered by anybody. I know Abberline was called to the scene of the crime but that doesn't prove the Ripper actually did it and Abberline was called to more murder scenes than just the five official Ripper ones. What makes people so sure that Jack the Ripper killed Mary Kelley?

Chosen answer: As the Ripper was never caught and interrogated, it can never be said with absolute certainty that Kelly was one of his victims. Her death does, however, fit the pattern of Ripper murders quite well with regard to time, general location, methodology and class of victim. There was also a noted trend of increasing levels of mutilation as the murders went on, so, while the damage was considerably more extensive that the previous killings, that also fits with a noted trend of the Ripper murder - it's also worth considering that, as Kelly was apparently his final kill, he may well have wanted to sign off with a particularly grand statement, hence the extreme level of mutilation to the body. This would also explain why the attack uncharacteristically took place indoors - what Jack had in mind for Kelly would take a considerable period of undisturbed time, more than could be guaranteed in an on-street attack. It's also believed that Jack had been interrupted during the murder of Elizabeth Stride on his previous night of violence some weeks earlier - this could also have led him to alter his modus operandi to ensure that this would not be repeated. So, no, it cannot be stated categorically that Kelly was a victim of Jack the Ripper, however the evidence suggests a high probability that this was the case, enough so that many people consider this to be a fact.

Tailkinker

Question: In the middle of the movie, one of the doctors tells the others of John Merrick, aka The Elephant Man. They show him for a few seconds Disrobed.. What is the point of showing Merrick in the movie? This scene seems totally isolated from the rest of the plot. It almost feels like they had an extra minute to kill and decided to add it in.

Chosen answer: In the original book, Merrick's appearance is used to show William Gull's education, expertise as an anatomist and that he recognises and respects cultural diversity - Gull assures Merrick that, had he been born in India, he would be worshipped as a descendant of the elephant-headed god, Ganesa. In this spirit, Gull even offers the victim of his first Ripper slaying to Ganesa as a sacrifice, as Indians make a sacrifice to Ganesa at the beginning of an important enterprise. Merrick is present as a vehicle to establish the rich nature of Gull's character. When it comes to the film, however, this subtlety is completely lost - it seems very much that the scriptwriter noted Merrick's appearance in the book and felt that it would be cool to include the character in his script. As such, as you point out, it does feel that Merrick's presence, stripped of the subtleties of the book, is almost entirely pointless.

Tailkinker

Question: In the film a specific group of friends are murdered as they are the only witnesses to the wedding. The women are watched and followed so the identity of each woman must have been known to the murderer or at least to 'special branch'. If they are willing to go to such lengths to cover up the royal secret then why is it that the french girl is murdered in place of Mary Kelley? Mary has bright red hair in the film and surely the killer might have noticed before he set to work on her that she wasn't the right woman? Or at least whoever tracked her down, they must have known which woman they were looking for so why didn't they realise that it wasn't Mary in the room? Am I missing something?

Chosen answer: At this point the murderer (Dr. Gull) has been completely taken over by his insanity and bloodthirst, as indicated by his completely black eyes. He was not thinking rationally, and was even having hallucinations while carrying out the murder. He was absolutely, wholeheartedly convinced he was killing the right person and fulfilling his mission, so he never stopped to notice the details of her appearance.

Twotall

Question: I remember seeing a mini series about the Ripper when I was younger, in which Mary Kelley had a new young prostitute (Ada) "under her wing", just as in this film. Did Ada really exist, and if so are there any evidence that might support that she was murdered in Kelley's place?

Chosen answer: Kelly regularly spent time with several other prostitutes, as we see in the film, but there's no particular evidence that Kelly was acting in a sort of mentor role to any of them. Tere is, however, evidence that Kelly did share a room with another prostitute, so the fictional 'Ada' may have some small basis in fact. However, none of the reports of Kelly's murder give any indication that there was any doubt about the identity of the victim.

Tailkinker

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Quotes

Jack the Ripper: I shall tell you where we are. We're in the darkest region of the human brain, a radiant abyss where men go to find themselves.
Netley: I don't understand, sir.
Jack the Ripper: Hell, Netley. We are in hell.

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Mistakes

The first time we see the young doctor doing his "lobotomy" in London Hospital (to the girl that was married to Prince Edward), Ian Holm comments on the procedure for some guest as they stand behind a glass window. You can clearly see the young doctor doing the third strike with his hammer in a reflection in the window. The movie cuts back to the young doctor and he is doing the third strike for a second time.

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Trivia

When the Ripper is talking to his driver in the apartment, it's actually Ian Holm's voice, he just talking really low.

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