Historical Accuracy of the film From Hell

Topics: Jack the Ripper, Metropolitan Police Service, From Hell Pages: 6 (1911 words) Published: November 11, 2004
"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 royal scandal. The scandal centers on Prince "Eddy" Albert Victor, the grandson of Queen Victoria and the heir-apparent to the throne of England. The prince had an affair with Annie Crook, a prostitute. When Annie became pregnant with his baby, they secretly married in a Catholic church. This secret wedding was witnessed by five of her prostitute friends (Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Kelly). The prince and Annie's child would be a Catholic heir to the throne of Protestant England. This could potentially destroy the royal family. The witnesses to this union had to be silenced in order to cover up the royal family scandal.

The royal family had their physician, Dr. William Gull clean up the prince's mess. Annie is kidnapped and placed into a mental hospital, where she is given a lobotomy. The five prostitutes are gruesomely killed, each one more vicious than the last, according to Masonic ritual.

The Queen was shocked at the brutal nature of the murders so the freemasons had to clean up the Dr. Gull's mess. He was found guilty of murder and given a lobotomy. He was sent to an insane asylum, ironically, just like Annie.


The Royal Conspiracy was widely discounted as a possibility. It was, however, the most glamorous version of events. Although it appears as though an "Annie Crook" did in fact exist, there is no evidence that she ever knew any of the Ripper victims, nor that she had an affair with Prince Albert Victor and had his child. There is also no evidence of any lobotomy. All of this first appeared in Stephen Knight's Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, and no other researcher has ever been able to corroborate his findings.

It should be said that to this day no one, for any certainty, knows who Jack the Ripper is. There are, however, several theories speculating on his occupation and identity.

A well-respected theory as to the Ripper's identity was that he was a doctor. The surgical skills and instruments needed to have performed the grisly dissections to the victims' bodies would suggest this. The murders required considerable anatomical knowledge. No one without experience in anatomical or...
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