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From Hell

From Hell is a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell speculating upon the identity and motives of Jack the Ripper. The title is taken from the first words of the "From Hell" letter, which some authorities believe was an authentic message sent from the killer himself back in 1888.

Moore's story was first published in 12 issues by Tundra Publishing/Kitchen Sink Press, then reissued in paperback by Eddie Campbell Comics. In 2001, it was made into a film by the Hughes Brothers, starring Johnny Depp, Heather Graham and Ian Holm.

From Hell takes as its premise Stephen Knight 's theory—widely criticised as inaccurate by researchers—that the murders were part of a conspiracy to conceal the birth of an illegitimate royal baby fathered by Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence.

In the story, Queen Victoria employs royal physician Sir William Withey Gull to kill those with knowledge of the child. Gull, however, decides to make the crimes a Masonic warning to what he sees as an Illuminati threat to the throne. (Historically, the Illuminati were blamed, in some quarters, for the French Revolution.)

The story also serves as an in-depth (though largely fictional, and admittedly speculative) character study of Gull; exploring his personal philosophy and motivation, and making sense of his dual role as royal assassin and serial killer. Gull has a number of transcendent, mystical experiences in the course of the murders.

Inspector Frederick Abberline investigates the Ripper crimes, but resigns from the Metropolitan Police in protest of the coverup of the murders.

In an appendix added to the collected From Hell, Moore writes that he did not accept Knight's theory at face value, but considered it an interesting starting point for his own fictional examination of the Ripper murders.

While From Hell is admittedly fiction, Moore and Campbell conducted an enormous amount of research to ensure plausibility and verisimilitude. The collected From Hell features over forty pages of page-by-page notes and references, indicating which scenes are based wholly on Moore's own imagination and which are based upon specific named sources. Moore's opinions on the reliability of those references are also listed, which often disagree quite dramatically with experts on the Ripper case and history.

The film

Moore's and Campbell's book was filmed in 2001 by the Hughes Brothers. It was first released on September 8, 2001 at the Venice Film Festival.

This film has been criticised for changing many details of the source, and effectively remaking the story into a whodunit. It received mixed reviews and performed rather poorly at the box office, earning only $31.6 million in domestic receipts for a budget of $35 million.

As usual with film adaptations of his works, Alan Moore refused to be involved with the script.


External links

  • Official Film Website
  • From Hell at the Internet Movie Database

Last updated: 02-08-2005 11:04:06
Last updated: 03-02-2005 13:01:18