About The Story
FROM HELL, referring to the return address on a letter penned by the Ripper, is about people who are in hell, trying to survive the grimmest circumstances. At the core are five impoverished prostitutes who share a desperate friendship, drawn tighter as their ranks are terrorized by a eruesome murderer.
Mary Kelly (Heather Graham), Kate Eddowes (Lesley Sharp), Liz Stride (Susan Lynch), Dark Annie Chapman (Katrin Cartlidge) and Polly (Annabelle Apsion) exist on the brink, earning a meager living with their bodies in a society that concurrently dishonors and
feeds upon them. Owning virtually nothing of value, they are threatened by a monster that would steal from them their only possession: existence.
Says Heather Graham: "My character and her friends live on the edge of starvation in this horrible slum. Each day is a struggle. Having a place to sleep is a luxury. The only thing that sustains Mary Kelly is her dream of returning to Ireland, where she lived as a young girl."
In one of the film's establishing scenes, the women awaken after a fitful night's sleep tied together on a bench — an uncomfortable option for those unable to afford a bed. The landlord arrives in the morning to untie the rope and return them to the streets where they must earn money for food and shelter for the coming night. It is a
harsh, unrelenting cycle of survival.
"The lives of these women are gruesome and dark," remarks Lesley Sharp. "Their day- to-day existence is always under threat — from pimps, violent johns, street criminals, disease and addictions."
Further menacing their lives is a dangerous secret the women unknowingly share, one which threatens the Crown — and themselves.
The lone authority seemingly concerned with protecting these "unfortunates," otherwise viewed as expendable, is Inspector Fred Abberline (Johnny Depp). Abberline, however, is himself
aggrieved. Tormented by unendurable memories, he seeks temporary escape with opium. His addiction heightens spells of clairvoyance that lend both insight and incapacity.
"Abberline has been beaten up by life," says Johnny Depp. "He lost his wife and child, and
relies on self-medication to get through the day." The Inspector, promoted out of Whitechapel after years of service, finds himself assigned once again to the seedy district to lead the Ripper investigation.
Says executive producer Amy Robinson. "Abberline is a character reminiscent of the protagonists of classic nineteenth century novels. He is a flawed hero enduring an enormous internal struggle while trying to cope with horrendous unfolding events."
The Inspector is aided in his troubled investigation by the imposing Sgt. Godley, played by Robbie Coltrane ("The World Is Not
Enough"). Godley is a loyal friend who takes a strong hand in caring for Abberline when he "chases the dragon."
"Godley is a straightforward Scottish cop who draws conclusions from concrete evidence," says Coltrane, "such as a blood-stained knife and eyewitness accounts. He's intrigued by Abberline's intuition and unorthodox methods. It's contrary to Godley's nature, but he accepts Abberline's visions as
genuine and feels compelled to act on them."
Says Johnny Depp: "Godley is the only person in the world that Abberline listens to and respects. Godley keeps him alive, watches over him. He's his closest friend."
As the Whitechapel murders escalate, the two men are thwarted by superiors more interested in sweeping the crimes under the rug than finding the killer. The sole exception is the renowned Sir William Gull (Ian Hobn), a physician to the royal family, and a powerful enough
figure to assist the shunned Inspector.
"It is certain to Gull that these murders a
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