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From Hell

Or, Val Continues To Catch Up On Movies She Wanted To See Several Years Ago. (There were actually plans to watch this one at the Red Rat Girls' Night In that never happened during Jekyll & Hyde rehearsals but it, well, never happened.)

Chalk up another movie I like regardless of Alan Moore's eyerolling. (Yes, I actually rather enjoyed LXG, and yes, I was and am a fan of the League comics. Which tells you pretty much all you need to know about my position on "faithfulness" of adaptation as primary yardstick.) I keep thinking I should read the thing one of these years. And then I think "Dude, all this stuff went down in nine weeks. What in the name of all that's holy takes 572 pages to tell??" (Yes, I know it starts earlier than that, but still.)

But anyway, movie. If I were one of those who think Martha Tabram should be a "canonical" victim, I'm not sure whether I'd consider the portrayal of her murder as a nod or an insult. But for the purposes of this story, the contrast between the brutal but ultimately banal work of the Nichols gang and the five ritual killings is a good way to point up the bizarre nature of the latter.

Y'know, in my book, the Duke of Clarence conspiracy theory is looney enough without all the extra trappings it acquires here. And yet it almost completely failed to bother me for the duration of the movie. I think part of the reason is that they don't make any definitive statement as to whether there's any real power behind Gull's ritual or if he's just plain nuts. The presence of a matter-of-factly genuine psychic makes the former just enough of a possibility without pulling it into a full-blown supernatural universe. It's not so ambiguous as to be in danger of meaning nothing, but enough to keep me interested.

I think I'm not explaining that well, but it's the best I can do.

As for the ritual itself, I had to giggle, because it reminded me of nothing so much as Norman's demon-calling in Blood Price (which I recall [ETA: Incorrectly -- thanks, assplund! Guess Peter Mohan isn't off the hook after all... *g*] being essentially the same in the book as in the TV pilot). Right down to the "Hey, these three points are the beginning of a five-pointed star!" Which, as the hilariously snarky review of the BT pilot in yesterday's Toronto Star points out, is just never, ever the sensible intuitive leap writers want it to be. Yet I continue to forgive them.

For some reason I seem to be more likely to history-spork something when I'm less recently familiar with the history. And am wrong, which is kind of embarrassing. Like when I would have sworn I remembered Catherine Eddowes being found indoors, when that was not in fact the case. I think I was muddled because the "Juwes" message was on a wall indoors, with her body just outside.

I'm still not sure how I feel about Mary living happily ever after in Ireland with baby Alice. It just feels...kinda sappy. But then, why not? Certainly the photos I've seen of her body make me wonder how the heck she was identified in the first place, so I can buy it being the wrong girl. I wouldn't be able to if Gull hadn't been so completely gaga while killing her, since he really should have noticed he had the wrong girl. And the complete gaga-ness is kind of meh by itself. I dunno. It was weird to go through the movie expecting her to die, because I've known Mary Jane Kelly was the last victim since I was, like, 11. And then she doesn't. And of course I've seen it coming with the Belgian girl being there, and somebody going out with a shawl over her head, and all. But...weird. I dunno. (ETA: Especially when she was sacked out with the money under her pillow. The Lucy Harris principle: When he gives you the money to get the hell out of Dodge, get the hell out of Dodge. Don't belt out a five-plus-minute power ballad and then settle in for a snooze!)

But, to quote another Duke, "Generally I like it." And I am that much more curious to read the comic now. Which I could end up regretting. (I have about a dozen issues of Promethea, which I started out loving, and then started thinking "Um, if she's the avatar of storytelling, shouldn't you maybe, I dunno, tell one once in a while?")


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 21st, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC)
It had Johnny Depp in a bathtub. That is all [g]
Aug. 21st, 2007 02:27 pm (UTC)
Hee! Unfortunately, I was too busy going "Absinthe and laudanum together! That's some...intelligent cocktail mixing, there, Inspector..."
Aug. 21st, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC)
Norman's demon-calling in Blood Price (which I recall being essentially the same in the book as in the TV pilot).

In the book it was the first runic letter of the big bad demon's name. Which is an ever-so-slightly less ridiculous intuitive leap, but takes longer to explain. But Henry was conveniently in possession of an ancient grimoire that listed the names of every known demon. ;-)
Aug. 21st, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
THAT's right. I remember now that I couldn't even picture how that would work on a map. *g* But didn't particularly care because I was having too much fun with everyone snarking at one another...
Aug. 22nd, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, me too.
Aug. 21st, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC)
I have a soft spot for From Hell because I love the art direction. The movie looks fabulous. The cast is fabulous. I can't say that the script and plot are all that great (like there wouldn't have been a line of clients around the block for Mary Kelly) but they do manage to create a world where Jack the Ripper actually isn't the thing that scares you the most.
Aug. 21st, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, good gods, yes, it's stunning. Even while they're setting up the murder scenes to somehow make my brain go *ping* in the area where I have the photos dimly stored, yet avoiding being overly graphic.

Mary Jane Kelly actually is reputed to have been quite the looker, and she was 24 where the others were all in their mid-30s to 40s.
Aug. 21st, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
HAH. I loved this movie, and have it, somewhere. I have very little knowledge of how it fits with history at all, though. And I've begun to discover that the more Moore hates his movies, the less I'll actually like his comics.
Aug. 21st, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
The basic facts of the murders are quite accurate. Everything else is colorful Mooreian embroidery on a fairly popular and highly entertaining conspiracy theory, which also inspired Murder by Decree in the 1970s.

Apparently it's not enough for people that everyone was openly freakin' terrified of Queen Victoria. She has to be all seekritly Machiavellian too. *eyeroll*
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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