Jack the Ripper (Shock) (1988)
|Year Of Production||1988|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||David Wickes|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, text screen after the second part|
London 1888. Inspector Frederick Abberline (Michael Caine) of Scotland Yard is assigned by his superiors to investigate the murder and brutal mutilation of a prostitute in Whitechapel. But the investigation is not simple. As other mutilated bodies of prostitutes turn up in the same area, the newspapers, and especially reporter Benjamin Bates (Jonathan Moore), whip up a public frenzy and the PM fears that a revolution is in the air in the East End.
There are no shortage of suspects for Abberline; the American actor Richard Mansfield (Armand Assante), appearing in the play Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in London, police surgeon Dr Llewellyn (Michael Hughes), socialist agitator George Lusk (Michael Gothard), Dr Acland (Richard Morant), the son-in-law of the Royal Surgeon to Queen Victoria and expert on diseases of the brain, Sir William Gull (Ray McAnally), the Queen’s clairvoyant Robert Lees (Ken Bones) and, indeed, the Queen’s grandson Prince Albert, Duke of Clarence. The police and the authorities want the murders solved at any cost but Abberline and his assistant Sergeant George Godley (Lewis Collins) face huge obstacles as they search for the truth.
This Jack the Ripper is a two part drama made for Thames Television in 1988 which is certainly a high quality production. It has a stellar cast for a TV drama, headed by Michael Caine who is excellent as the flawed Abberline. He has a liking for alcohol and is an East Ender himself, a tenacious but rebellious officer with a past relationship with artist Emma Prentice (Jane Seymour), who seems also to be involved with Mansfield and is in league with the newspapers. Other familiar faces in the cast include Armand Assante, Susan George, Harry Andrews and Hugh Fraser, while the drama boasts an impressive production design, with the sets, be they offices, interiors, or the buildings and streets of Victorian London, nicely detailed.
Jack the Ripper commences with a voice-over and text screen stating that the story “is based on extensive research including a review of the official files . . . and interviews with leading criminologists and Scotland Yard officials”. It is, however, a TV drama and although the film has excellent period detail and costumes some events and scenes are heightened for dramatic effect, including the climax which seems unlikely, whatever one believes about the reveal of the identity of The Ripper. As well, some aspects of the story, such as the Abberline Emma Prentice relationship, are barely developed and feel superfluous.
Jack the Ripper has more suspects and red herrings than perhaps is good for it and the climax is overdramatised, but the film is held together by good period detail, an excellent performance by Michael Caine and a good cast. At the end of the drama is another text message; there were no fingerprints or forensics in 1888 and no one was tried for the murders, but what is presented is what the producers believe to be true. Their conclusion as to the identity of Jack the Ripper may not be definitive, but it is certainly worth consideration.
Jack the Ripper is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.77:1, the original broadcast ratio, and is16x9 enhanced.
I was surprised at how well the film looked for a 30 plus year old TV drama. It is sharp, showing off the good detail in the sets and costumes. Colours are natural and rich, although shadow detail is sometimes a bit indistinct. Brightness and contrast are consistent.
There are constant small white specks but nothing too large or distracting. Light film grain is also evident, plus some ghosting with movement against broken backgrounds.
There are no subtitles.
Audio is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps, which reflects the broadcast audio. The audio setting of the DVD is very, very loud, so I had to turn my system down around 6 settings to get my usual volume.
Dialogue is always clear and understandable and the effects and music are nicely rendered. There is no surrounds or sub-woofer use.
The score by John Cameron has an “empire” like feel. It is predictable and a bit repetitive.
I did not notice any lip synchronization problems.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 release of Jack the Ripper has the drama on two discs but also has no extras. As the local release looks good there seems no reason for importing.
This version of Jack the Ripper has previously been released in Australia by Madman in 2004. I cannot find a review of that release, but if you have it there seems no reason to repurchase. However, if you are interested in the subject matter, the period or the star, this rerelease of Jack the Ripper is well worth a look.
The video and the audio reflect the original broadcast. There are no extras.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|