Tech Specs: Anamorphic
Widescreen, aspect ratio 2.35:1, English 5.1 DTS, English 5.1 Dolby
Surround, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround, English subtitles.
Though it may
offend purist fans of the original graphic novel, the
film adaptation of From Hell works. Taken from a source
densely packed with detail, screenwriter Rafael Yglesias managed to
capture the dread and mystery in Alan Moore's take on the Jack The
Ripper murders. In some ways, it was maddening, as offhanded references
to Victorian culture were left unexplained.
Hell is the sort of film for which DVDs were meant. If it piques
your curiosity, you need these kinds of reference materials on-hand.
The film itself
has been transferred beautifully, and given a THX certification. So
far, that mark of quality has been pretty consistent, and it's crucial
for a film like this. The Hughes Brothers were definitely after a
very stylistic look, and the video does not dull it.
Because The Hughes
Brothers learned how to direct from watching laser discs with commentary,
it is only right that they pay careful attention to their own commentary
here. For those who would be interested, everyone involved in the
commentary really offers sharp insight on what it takes to put a film
like this together. Even Robbie Coltrane keeps himself on track in
discussing various techniques behind building his character and working
with Johnny Depp. Albert Hughes furthers the insight by commenting
over the deleted scenes, meticulously explaining why things were cut.
He also provides
my nomination for best commentary line of the year, over a scene set
in an opium den. As the camera fixes on an Asian woman's backside,
he explains that he and Allen argued over keeping the shot. "I agree;
it's a nice butt." (Ultimately, Albert won the fight, making the point
that, really, it doesn't add anything to the film.)
only problem is one that seems to run rampant through DVDs (unless
it's my player), and that is a huge discrepancy in volume levels between
the film and the interactive menus. The menu on the first disc takes
a little more time than necessary, but on the second disc, its introduction
really sets the tone for the extras.
Granted, no one
really knows who Jack The Ripper was, though many ripperologists (yes,
they have their own word for it) do agree with the culprit posited
here. But just for grins, the historical details of the crimes are
explored in great detail on the second disc. In the Interactive Investigation,
you can skim over the grim details of the actual crimes, or watch
pieces of a BBC documentary interviewing experts about the lives of
Should you be
more fascinated by Depp's character's peccadilloes, the disc includes
a documentary on absinthe. The drink might be more enchanting if the
users interviewed here didn't all seem like they'd burnt something
small but crucial out of their heads.
The Hughes Brothers
themselves claim to be taking us through the murder sites, but they're
actually the sites as recreated in the film. But any excuse to see
their set brightly lit is worthwhile; building Whitechapel in a village
outside Prague was a monumental feat, also detailed in a separate
To placate the
purists, they pay due props to the Alan Moore graphic novel, explaining
what they had to cut from it and why. More than that, the directors
also show what imagery they lifted right out of Eddie Campbell's artwork.
It's interesting, but watch the movie first.
If you consider
yourself a ripperologist, you must have this disc. And if you are
an Alan Moore fan who boycotted the film on principle, give it another
Hell (from Amazon.com)