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Sunday June 23rd 2024

From Hell | 2001

From Hell location: Menza Právnická, nám. Curieových 7, Staré Město, Prague
From Hell location: the 'Royal London Hospital': Menza Právnická, nám. Curieových 7, Staré Město, Prague

There's little of the complexity of Alan Moore’s graphic novel left in this adaptation by Albert and Allen Hughes, which turns the story into a standard, if good-looking and stylish, whodunnit.

Another version of the Jack the Ripper myth, it's naturally set in Victorian London but was filmed almost entirely in the Czech Republic, where a swathe of Spitalfields, in the city's East End, was reconstructed at the famous Barrandov Studios in Prague.

The set included recreations of Nicholas Hawksmoor's Christ Church Spitalfields and the Ten Bells pub alongside on Commercial Street, both of which you can still visit in London. For a while in the less enlightened 70s and 80s, the Ten Bells, 84 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London E1, was renamed the Jack The Ripper and displayed memorabilia associated with the case, but has reverted to its old name. The interior is decorated with original Victorian blue-and-white tiling, and one wall bearing a mural of painted tiles depicting Spitalfields in ye Olden Time.

Accounts of the Jack the Ripper story link both Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly to the pub (they weren't all pals as the film suggests), the legend being that Annie Chapman drank at the pub shortly before she was murdered, and Mary Kelly supposedly picked up clients on the pavement outside.

The 'Royal London Hospital', where the royal family's physician Sir William Gull (Ian Holm) and guests witness the demonstration of a new technique of brain surgery to cure dementia, is Menza Právnická (the Law Faculty of Charles University), námesti Curieových 7 (Curie Square) at Listopadu (the street seen in The Bourne Identity and The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian), Staré Město (the Old Town).

Economic Institute, Politic veznu, Prague
From Hell location: Abberline's police HQ: Economic Institute, Politic veznu, Prague

The exterior of the police station out of which Inspector Abberline (Johnny Depp) operates is the Economic Institute, Politic veznu 936/7. Oddly, this also provided the police HQ in Neil Burger's 2006 The Illusionist, with Ed Norton.

After the first murder, Abberline tries to get information from the tight-lipped friends of Polly Nichols (Annabelle Apsion) at her funeral, which is held at Olšany hrbitovy, (Olsany Cemetery), Vinohradská 1835/153, to the east of the city centre, Prague’s largest graveyard noted for its many remarkable art nouveau monuments, which is also seen in fantasy films Hellboy and Van Helsing.

From Hell location: Theological Hall, Strahov Monastery, Strahov, Mala Strana, Prague
From Hell location: 'Buckingham Palace': Theological Hall, Strahov Monastery, Strahov, Mala Strana, Prague

The strangely book-lined interior of 'Buckingham Palace', where Queen Victoria asks how advanced is her grandson's 'malady', is the Theological Hall of Strahov Library in the Strahov Monastery, Strahovské nádvoří 1/132 in Strahov, west of Malá Strana (Lesser Town). There's been a monastery on the site since the 12th Century, but the library dates from 1679, and its astonishing painted stucco ceiling from 1720. It's open to visitors.

Philosophical Hall, Strahov Monastery, Strahov, Mala Strana, Prague
From Hell location: Abberline researches Freemasonry: Philosophical Hall, Strahov Monastery, Strahov, Mala Strana, Prague

A second library, now called the Philosophical Hall, was added alongside in the late 18th Century. This is the library in which Abberline later researches the history of the Freemasons. Eagle-eyed location spotters may recognise this as the 'House of Commons' committee room in the 2006 Bond film Casino Royale.

From Hell location: Samovský palace, Hradčany square, Mala Strana, Prague
From Hell location: Abberline searches the 'Special Branch' offices: Samovský palace, Hradčany square, Mala Strana, Prague

Stealthily searching the office of Special Branch officer Ben Kidney, Abberline discovers a connection to Marylebone Workhouse. The Special Branch HQ is Salmovský palác (National Gallery Salm Palace), Hradcanské námestí 2, opposite the gates of Prague Castle in Malá Strana (Lesser Town). The Classicist palace, standing alongside the entrance to Prague castle, has been renovated to house Prague's National Gallery's permanent exhibition of 19th century art, from neo-Classicism to Romanticism.

From Hell location: Viničná 1, Prague
From Hell location: the 'Marylebone Workhouse': General University hospital, Viničná at Apolinářská, Nové Město, Prague

'Marylebone Workhouse' itself, where the Inspector and Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) discover the lobotomised Ann Crook, is the rear of the rather forbidding old red-brick Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Prague’s General University Hospital, on Apolinářská at Viničná 1, Nové Město (New Town).

As Kelly tells Abberline of Ann Crook's marriage to the mysterious painter (the film conflates the real characters Prince Albert, Duke Of Clarence and painter Walter Sickert – both considered by some to have been Jack the Ripper – who are separate characters in the graphic novel), they're walking along Barborská 24 in Kutná Hora, about 40 miles east of Prague.

In medieval times a silver mining town and second only to Prague in terms of population, Kutná Hora boasts a Historical Town Centre now included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There's a regular train service from Hlavní nádraží, Prague's main rail station.

They continue into the formal garden of Chateau Dobříš, Kutná Hora, where Abberline tells of the death of his wife in childbirth. The 18th Century Rococo chateau itself, which is open for visits, appears in The Illusionist.

From Hell film location: Villa Balbianello, Lake Como
From Hell film location: Abberline shows Mary Kelly the portrait of Albert: National Museum, Václavské nám, Prague | Photograph: Wikimedia / Swobodin

The 'art gallery', in which Abberline shows Mary Kelly the portrait of Prince Albert, is the interior of the Národní Muzeum, Natural History Museum, Václavské nám 68 in Prague. The museum has been closed for several years for major renovations, no doubt helped by the locations fees earned by its appearances as the lobby of a grand ‘Venetian’ hotel in 2006's Casino Royale and as the 'embassy' in Brian de Palma's 1996 Mission: Impossible.

From Hell film location: Villa Balbianello, Lake Como
From Hell film location: the ceremony in the Masonic chamber: the Library, Kačina Chateau, Kutná Hora | Photograph: Wikimedia / VitVit

It's briefly back to Kutná Hora to find the Masonic chamber in which the new candidate Dr Ferral (Paul Rhys) is initiated into the secretive organisation, is the circular Library of Kačina Chateau, Svatý Mikuláš 51, Kutná Hora.

The wood-panelled home of Sir William Gull where he's finally confronted by Abberline, is Goldings Hall, an 18th century Tudor-style mansion in Waterford, Hertfordshire.

Built in 1877, the house was sold to Dr Barnado's Homes (a children's charity)  for use as an orphanage in 1921. Although it's a Grade II listed building, it was sold in 1997 and converted into private apartments.

The epilogue, with Mary Kelly bringing up Ann Crook's daughter in remote and beautiful countryside, is Crackington Haven, situated between towering cliffs on the north coast of Cornwall. The cove offers sheltered bathing and lies at the end of a steep valley, accessible from the A39 between Bude and Tintagel.