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By JASON COMERFORD

A complex, multilayered and startling work of visual and narrative art, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell comic series delves deep into the mystery of Jack the Ripper and gives the reader nothing less than an encyclopedic view of London in the late 1800s, as seen through the twisted worldview of history’s most famous unidentified serial killer. Heavily fictionalized yet exhaustively researched, Moore and Campbell’s From Hell is filled with a vivid cast of characters and unsparingly graphic violence (not to mention Moore’s usual mystic and sexual preoccupations), and posits an intriguing conspiracy theory surrounding the Ripper’s true identity.

Replace everything that makes the graphic novel unique with thudding Hollywood banality, and you have the Hughes Brothers’ 2001 film adaptation. The film has much going for it, at least on the technical side (Peter Deming’s atmospheric photography is a major asset, as is Martin Childs’ soot-drenched production design), but the script, credited to Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias, jettisons practically everything that distinguishes Moore’s work on a narrative level, transforming the doggedly rational Inspector Abbeline (Johnny Depp) into a psychic opium addict and giving him a doomed love affair with the Ripper’s final victim (Heather Graham, miscast but giving it her best shot). On its own terms, From Hell isn’t a total loss, but a comparison with the source material does it no favors.

Leave it to composer Trevor Jones to make it all work nonetheless. The South African-born composer is well-known to film music enthusiasts for his expansive, grandiloquent scores for films including The Dark Crystal, The Last of the Mohicans, Cliffhanger, and Dark City; Jones received a script from the Hughes Brothers as early as 1998 and had an unusually long time to develop and finesse his musical ideas. No stranger to the supernatural or the fantastic, Jones seized the opportunity to create a dark, moody musical tapestry swelling with menace and unease, as well as a gorgeous love theme for string choir that resonates with the melancholy romantic passion the film’s script can’t quite muster. In addition to the large orchestra and a full palette of electronics (some performed by Jones himself), the composer also incorporated a broad range of vocals, from soloists to a full chorale, to signify the dark spirituality at the core of the story. In an interview with Dan Goldwasser, Jones clarified,

We used Bill Brooks, a wonderful American bass baritone, who did this Tuvan chant - it's a kind of Mongolian Buddhist chanting. It lent a wonderful aspect to the score. ...I brought in Mongolian chanting because I was looking for a mystical element. The whole of the Freemasonry thing is bound up with mystic symbols and rituals and I wanted to bring out that aspect of the organization. The Ripper wasn't just some lunatic running around slashing ladies, this is something that was almost part of the British establishment that had this bizarre thing steeped in mysticism - that part of the culture of this country that these people who belonged to the various castes and so on had this mystical aspect to them that resulted in virtually wiping out half a dozen women. It's unbelievable, really! So to bring out that aspect, I drew on this Mongolian thing. And the overtones in Bill's voice are quite amazing - he brought the whole thing a very spiritual aspect that I was looking for. I also used the London Voices choir, but I used them quite sparingly. They're used almost as a texture, including the female voice, Belinda Sykes. I used them almost as instruments, and not a regular choir.

Jones’ cue “The Compass and the Ruler” is an excellent entry point into the score’s unique brand of dark ambience, beginning with a section of material carefully processed to sound like a period wax cylinder recording, then segueing into the cleaner, richer sound of Jones’ orchestral and choral effects, undulating with surging lines for strings and pulsing with tense percussion. From Hell is easily one of the highlights of Jones’ long and multifaceted career; Varese Sarabande’s CD release of the music is carefully assembled from all of the score’s highlights and is a must-have for fans of the genre.



 



The Moment in Question:

Click [here] to listen to a sample
of “The Compass and the Ruler,”
composed by Trevor Jones.

Trevor Jones portrait
... ..Trevor Jones

Installment Prize:

A prize will be awarded at the
end of each week through
random drawing from the pool
of participants contributing
comments - Prize information
for Week 4 Coming Soon!

What do you think?

Click here to submit a comment
for this installment.

Awesome Websites!

Trevor Jones official website

Hughes Brothers Wikipedia

From Hell score CD (Amazon)

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Next Installment:

Roberto Nicolosi and Les Baxter
stare into those eyes.
BLACK SUNDAY

Jason Comerford Bio


READER COMMENTS:

Howlin' Wolf  
If you have not responded as a prize winner, give us a shout! We have several prize winners for Week 1 and individual prize winners for Weeks 2 and 3. Visit the links for the prizes below to see if you are a winner. The Week 4 prize information soon and the GRAND PRIZE to be selected by random drawing at the conclusion of 13 Chills.

Week 1 Prizes and Winners

Week 2 Prize options and Winner

Week 3 Prize options and Winner
     
Dino  
Okay this movie is so disturbing on a visual level, then you add the score ...this wonderful piece from Jones. Every turn covered, giving us the willies and some of us wanting this film just to be over. It's not very often that a film makes me like this, but the score is something great to take away from the whole experience. Many highlights "Chasing the Dragon," "Marylebone Workhouse" and "Death Coach"...

Thanks for making me be reminded of this film ...welcome in nightmares, again...
     
Alex   Didn't know he did Dark City and The Dark Crystal.

Jonathan   Yes, that's a good score. I'm listening to it now. Trevor Jones has done well. It's dark, suspenseful, yet calm and relaxing too. The SCORE is easily the best element of the whole movie.
     
Josh   This and Ghost Story are the two titles from this series so far that I'm unfamiliar with. I really liked what I heard in the samples of each, so I'll defnitely have to track them down. Thanks Jason!
     
S. Dawg   I'm getting 13 chills just listening to the sample. Heavyweight spookiness! <shiver>
     
Scott   So far in these 13 Chills, this one is by far and away my favorite. I love the vibe that Jones puts on this one, it is very dark and brooding and moody. This one is a great listen, and I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn't have it already.
     
Jeff   I have never seen this movie, nor heard the score.

I agree with S. Dawg, this is pretty chilling. I just might have to pick this up!