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9.5 12 10
FanFix August 30, 2013 4127
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The original From Hell had the unenviable task of trying to adapt an Alan Moore easy task at the best of times, and even worse to boil down 9 years of publications filled with liner notes and easter eggs. Like a mad genius or an obsessive savant - or likely a combination of the two - Moore had imagined the interwoven lives of a couple dozen individuals and how it lead to an infamous series of murders that can only be called conspiracy of the highest order. The film script attempts to preserve the lyricism and detail of Moore's work while also giving a less-cerebral audience some emotional investment and entertainment value. It's safe to say that the filmmakers managed only mixed results at this probably-impossible task.

TM2YC tries here to give us a film version closer to Moore's original work, and in that I think he succeeds. As written in the notes, the material available simply doesn't allow a truly accurate rendition of the graphic novel, but what's here is certainly closer. The look of the film is jet black like the comics, and the tone is grim and dry. I'd say that (as written in the notes) the visual quality of the film does suffer somewhat from this conversion, and that does make some of the scenes seem a bit too visually-extreme for me (demonic eyes, for example). I also remember spending much of the film on first watch just trying to figure out what the hell was happening. Here, the narrative is streamlined and, I thought, almost telegraphed from the start. It'd be ideal for a first-time viewing, less-interesting on a re-watch.

All that said, I don't think this actually makes it much BETTER of a movie than the theatrical cut. This is the problem with adaptations... a more accurate one isn't necessarily better for the new medium. The film as-is still retains all kinds of bits and bobs that weave an amazing tapestry in the graphic novel but just seem incredibly contrived and half-baked in the movie. The romance is still undercooked and honestly comes almost out of nowhere here, and our detective has had his character gutted and so we have little emotional attachment to him. The "alternative" ending for me was better, as it paid off the sudden introduction of a new prostitute, and it gave some satisfaction for the only character that really had an arc: Mary Kelly. However, the film as a whole is quite straightforward and uninvolving in this form. It's not a work of suspense, and there's not really enough's a mystery more than anything, but not one with clues that a viewer could logically work out unless they have a lot of previous knowledge.

I think my preferred edit of the film would be more radical, lots of cutting, rescoring, maybe playing with flashbacks during investigations. I don't honestly think a great adaptation of Moore's work is possible, so better to just make it a great movie of its own. That said, that's not the intention here, so I have to judge this on its own merits: which are plentiful. It's a well-executed and creative work that is indeed more faithful to the original material. If that's what you're looking for, you should definitely give this a watch.

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