Back from vacation

My son and I survived London just fine, although people were definitely a bit nervous, especially on the Underground. But it was good – we had a great time.
One highlight was the Jack the Ripper London Walk. Interest in this 19th century crime remains high, especially due to the recent From Hell movie (referred to in the tour as the “Johnny Depp movie”). Three or four tours are offered, and even on the London Walk tour we were divided into two groups.
We were fortunate enough to have Donald Rumbelow as our guide. And he had with him copies of the brand new edition of his famous book, updated in 2004. At the end of the tour I was definitely impressed enough to give up my 10 pounds (which given the current exchange rate is nearly $20) to get one (which he kindly autographed), and I highly recommend it and the tour.
Donald completely shattered my conception of the case by saying that Alan Moore’s comic book on the subject is 90% fiction.
I had come at Jack the Ripper through the comic book (which is extraordinarily detailed, with footnotes and everything) because I am a huge fan of Alan Moore’s, ever since I read my first Watchmen comic in 1986 or 1987. (Apparently this will be the next Alan Moore title to become a movie, after League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.)
Donald was very gracious about this, however, and acknowledged that the comic book was very good, especially in its graphical depictions of 19th century London. This all came up because of the inevitable question about the historical accuracy of “From Hell,” which was based on the comic book.
Before making the movie, Johnny Depp had spent a couple of hours on a personal tour with Donald, who told us that Johnny had wanted to play his character more straight up (i.e. historically accurate), without the opium etc. but the studio wouldn’t let him.
And as our cabbie said the next night, as my son and I were chatting with him about what we’d done in London, it could just as well be Gull or the royal family (as proposed in the comic and the movie) since no one still knows for certain who it was. We had tried to tell him about Donald’s reaction to those questions. But I guess people just like to believe what they want to believe.


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