Historical Accuracy of the film From Hell

Essay by m27khanCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2004

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"From Hell" is a look at the 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."


During 10 weeks in autumn 1888, Jack the Ripper murdered five prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of London - all within one mile of each other. The murders were linked because of the horrific way in which the bodies were mutilated. It has been said that Jack the Ripper is the most famous serial killer ever, even though he has killed as few as five people. The question of who the killer was mystifies us today as much as it did the London Police in 1888.

The latest film to tackle the story of Jack the Ripper is From Hell, directed by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes.

The movie's name is taken from the actual return address used by the Ripper in one of his letters taunting the police (see Supplement, last page).

From Hell focuses on Inspector Frederick Abberline's (played by Johnny Depp) obsession with solving the Ripper murders. The movie delves into the shadowy connections of both the royal family and freemasonry, speculating on the murderer's identity. It also vividly portrays the poverty of 1880s' London and the social rift, long established between the classes.

The historical merits of the film From Hell will be examined by looking at the general known facts about the case; the accuracy of the film, whether the film is fair, biased, one-sided, or propagandistic; and lastly, the social climate of the late 19th century in Victorian England.


The movie chooses the popular Royal Conspiracy theory connecting the Ripper's victims to a...