Soundtrack Information

From Hell

From Hell

Varese Sarabande (302 066 296 2)

Release Date: 2001

Conducted by Geoffrey Alexander

Performed by
The Academy of St. Martins in the Field

Format: CD

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Track Listing

1. "The Nobodies (Wormwood Remix)" - Marilyn Manson 4:59
2. In Memoriam 7:03
3. Royal Connections 5:08
4. A Sprig of Red Grapes 5:12
5. Whitechapel Murders 7:23
6. Chasing the Dragon 7:39
7. Portrait of a Prince 6:45
8. The Compass and The Ruler 6:06
9. Marylebone Workhouse 3:51
10. Investigation 4:13
11. Death Coach 3:56
12. Pennies For The Ferryman 6:22
13. Bow Belle (Absinthium) 3:08
  Total Album Time: 71:45

Review: From Hell

by Dan Goldwasser September 26, 2001
3.5 / 5 Stars

The graphic novel "From Hell" by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell focused on the story of Jack the Ripper - a series of brutal murders of prostitutes in Victorian London at the end of the 19th century.  The graphic novel took a fictionalized approach to a historical mystery - and the new film by the Hughes Brothers (Dead Presidents) follows the same approach.  Exactly who was Jack the Ripper?  Why was he killing these prostitutes?  What is their connection to the royal family?  How are the Freemasons involved?  The dark and gritty world of industrialized London comes to vivid life in From Hell - and the horrors of the Ripper murders are brutally underscored by Trevor Jones's gothic and brooding romantically edged score.

"In Memoriam" is a great cue that encompasses most of the themes that Jones wrote for the film. Starting off with low brooding woodwinds, a soft choir slowly comes in and the strings start to build until they crescendo with a statement of the romantic theme.  It's a beautiful motif, filled with melancholy and sadness.  After it subsides, some industrialized percussion and some atmospheric effects give way to a repetitive ostinato that builds to a frenzied climax, much in the spirit of Wojciech Kilar's score to Bram Stoker's Dracula.  After some softer underscore, the tense chorus and orchestra build up again to a tragic climax, thus ending the cue.

The rest of the score is musically spawned from that first cue.  "Royal Connections" is a dark brooding cue that explores how the royal family might be involved in the Ripper killings.  Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) is heading up the investigation of the murders, and suspects that Jack the Ripper is an educated man - whereas his boss thinks it's little more than an uneducated butcher.  A common clue in all of the murders is the presence of a sprig of grapes - the corresponding cue, "A Sprig of Red Grapes" doesn't provide much thematically, but allows a chance for additional tense underscore to be revealed.

"Chasing the Dragon" is one of those softer (yet eternally dark) cues present when Abberline "chases the dragon".  The term describes those who are absinthium and laudinum addicts - and Abberline is one through and through.  However, it is while in these drug-induced states that he has visions of the killings.  One of the prositutes, Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) aids Abberline in his investigation.  Through their interactions, they spark a touch of forbidden romance, softly underscored by Jones' melancholy romantic theme in "Portrait of a Prince".  The methodical killings continue, however, and Abberline is convinced that people of power are behind them.  In "Investigation", he beings to look into the involvement of the Freemasons. 

The tense action music in "Death Coach" is similar to much of the action music Jones has been doing for the past couple of years - pounding brass and frenetic strings - and another prostitute is dead at the hands of Jack the Ripper.  The sad ending of the film is underscored in "Pennies for the Ferryman", with another reprise of the romantic theme.  It's tender and moving, and one of Jones's best themes in recent years.  The album ends with a source cue, "Bow Belle (Absinthium)", a warbly song processed to sound as though it were played back on an old Victrola - replete with pops and hisses and awful sound quality.  In the film, Jones provided additional dark underscore to blend from the song into a score cue, and it's a shame that it's not included on the album.  Instead, we have a hard-rock Marilyn Manson song ("The Nobodies"), that appears at the beginning of the album.  Unless you're a big Manson fan, feel free to skip this one - it doesn't add anything to the album, and seems like it was more of a contractual obligation than an artistic choice.

As indicated before, this is a rather dark and moody score.  But the exciting tension and sorrowful romantic theme make this a great album to listen to.  Running a healthy 72 minutes long, I'm sure most people will find this an album to listen to on a rainy day while reading a graphic novel.

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