About The Production (Continued)
The graphic depiction of this murder, in satisfying the production's mandate for realism, was designed to meet historical rather than gratuitous requirements. Insight into the depraved mind of Jack the Ripper is seen through the manner and ferocity of his pathological deeds.
The chief accomplice of the Ripper is a man called Netley, a commoner unwittingly drawn into a horrifying spiral of murder. Seduced and intimidated by the Ripper's powerful, authoritative manner, he enters an abyss that is described to him as hell itself. Netley is played by Jason Flemyng, who starred with Brad Pitt in Guy Ritchie's "Snatch."
Says Flemyng: "In some ways Netley is an unwitting dupe, but his fault lies in not having the courage to put an end to this evil once he realizes how grotesque it is. This is, albeit to a much smaller degree, a dilemma confronting most of us at some point. We have no desire to do wrong, but lack the will to do right."
Doing "right" by the Ripper's victims is one of the chief objectives of the filmmakers, who sought to portray them as fully dimensional, if not flawed, characters. When you deal with the underclass of any society, you're going to see desperate situations that reveal human emotions and frailties," says Albert Hughes. "You'll see noble and ignoble attempts to find some sort of satisfaction in the course of their daily grind. These women personify that."
A sweeping view of the Whitechapel slum where the ladies live and ply their flesh trade is established in a stunning Steadicam shot that begins atop a 40-foot high crane towering over the set. The crane lowered the operator to the ground, who stepped out and followed Heather Graham's character through a nighttime mass of downtrodden humanity. "It was amazing that after seven years of development, to actually see the Ten Bells Pub and Christchurch remade to scale," says Murphy.
Poor weather routinely plagued the Whitechapel set, located in the small village of Orech, and this particular evening was no exception. Heavy rains postponed the shot for several hours before its completion in the early morning. A continuous stream of fake rain from water trucks was also a constant companion. Recreating London required rain, but not fog, according to director of photography Peter Deming.
"Most anytime you see a movie scene of London at night there is the requisite fog, particularly in a mystery or a thriller," he says. "We're using mist to create atmosphere, but are avoiding the cliche of
fog, as it was unusually clear in London in the fall of 1888."
Deming wanted as much atmosphere as possible, while still retaining warmth. He shot with anamorphic lenses on Kodak film stock. Prior to production, he researched the lenses in Los Angeles, tracking the performance of each one with specific film stocks over the last five
years. Though the anamorphic widescreen system requires more light and gives somewhat less depth, Deming likes its composition, color saturation and complete use of the negative. He diffused and softened the light by placing silk stockings over the rear of the lenses, and gave a completely different feel to the movie's flashback sequences by shooting them on positive film. In addition to numerous Steadicam and dolly tracking shots, there is an extensive motion control shot marking the passage of time from night to day, as the Ripper and then Abberline are seen standing over the same body, many hours apart.
Along with the Hughes brothers, Deming collaborated with Martin Childs and costume designer Kym Barrett in realizing the look and style of the film. Barrett says the story's sensibility likens it to a modern mystery thriller. "Although it's a period piece, this movie is very edgy and hip: it's not a stuffy Victorian exercise," she remarks. "It presents an illusory reality expressed through the skewed perspective
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