Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper Cover There once was a man called Jack. Who really did like to Hack. But then one day, to his dismay, he decided that he should stop being a quack, WAK-WAK! Any good? Jack the Ripper thinks so. Though I am not too sure what he would think the same thing about this documentary, Directed by the BBC, and Starring Patricia Cornwell and a whole host of criminal experts. It was made in 2005, and it lasted for 60 minutes.

Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper

This feature length documentary chronicles the tale of Patrician Cornwells investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders.

It start’s off with a brief explanation on how this mad-man – labelled Jack in the press – committed five gruesome murders within the Whitechapel district of London, in 1888. Then, Patricia herself, elaborates on how she came to know about this tale – via a friend of hers in Scotland Yard – thus pickering her interest, just enough, to then see if she can solve this case her way.

However, before she does this, Patricia explains her own origins, such as her adolescent years – her time as a cub-reporter – her introduction to forensic investigation – as well as her career a noted novelist, writing the Scarpetta series of books.

Now after researching all of the suspects in the 'Jack the Ripper case', Patricia focuses on one man in particulate – Walter Sickert. Walter was a famous artist in the 19th Centaury you see, who studied under artistic legend, James Whistler, as well being an outré in egocentric behavior and one time actor.

But why does Patricia think that Walter is Jack? Instinct – and a dubious link to the 1907 'Camden Town murders'. Still, she knows all to well that she will need more than just this, to prove if he is the culprit or not.

And so to do just that, Patricia gathers experts in the field to aide her in this investigation. Pathologists – Analyst – Art Historians – Forensics Experts – Lawyers – and over six million dollars worth of cash, all to help Patricia in her crusade.

So what does she find? Unfortunately, circumstantial evidence based on analytical theory. Please note, the Jack the Ripper letters in the Public Record Office – Sickets paintings from private sources – and other Sickert related paraphernalia from public sources – are worthless once analysed under the microscope.

Nevertheless, over time, Patricia does discover a number of tenuous links between Jack and Walter. (1) Walters fixation on death through his paintings. (2) Mitochondrial DNA between a few of the Jack the Ripper letters, and Walter Sickets own letters. (3) A scrawl by Walter in a guest book, which cosmetically matches with two of the Jack the Ripper letters. And (4) A painting by Walter called ‘Jack the Rippers bedroom’ – that is presumably his own. Case closed? What do you think?

The search for Jack the Ripper is upon us once again, this time from the creative eyes of novelist, and super-sleuth, Patricia Cornwall.

Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper
Still, what does she discover? Well, in my opinion, f*ck all. Listen, I do not mean this to be a slight to Ms Cornwall at all, because she has invested a lot of money in this investigation ($6 million dollars worth), as well as a lot of time (18 months). But I do find the whole thing a bit flat as theories go.

OK, I know that this sounds harsh, and in someway it is. I just cannot comprehend that old nut-job Sickert is the legendary Jack the Ripper.

And why do I say this? Hmmm? Well, their is no thorough account on where Walter was on the nights of the murders, only conjecture in how Patricia’s instinct and feelings has led her to this conclusion. Fair dues, there is a bit of evidence that proves that there is some weight behind her theories. Though most of these 'leads' concern the ‘Jack the Ripper Letters’ - which in my opinion, does not appear to be that conclusive – just slightly incriminating.

Saying all that though, I have to applaud Ms Cornwall in pushing this mystery as far as it could go, just gouging away at anything she can find connecting Walter to Jack. Granted, this is by the by all in all, and I do think that the main reason why she does not find anything more conclusive, is that she is looking at a 19th Century man with 21st Century eyes.

Patricia Cornwall
You see, mentality was different back then, and archetypes more creative. I think that Walter was a product of his time - a conservative man with artistic and egocentric manner - thus the conflict in his being spilling out into his work. Shame that Patricia could not have seen this flaw in her investigation too, because she is a really gutsy woman with very pretty hair.

Anyway, as for this documentary – it is a must see for any fans of either Jack the Ripper or Walter Sickert – as well as for people who like to see the creative and logical though process of a literate woman.


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