Fuck me, 1980 might be the most harrowing film I have ever seen. It has the same awful impact of Irreversible but there is nothing gratuitous or voyeuristic here. As befits its subject matter - and the fact that real women died - it is remorselessly sombre and bleak. With the exception of one vivid, nightmarish scene it is entirely stripped of the surreal air of 1974, nor is there any of the period swagger of the previous film.
They managed to pull out the sticky thread of the plot from the book and transplant it to the TV medium, radically simplifying who does what without losing the integrity of the story. Not softening what Peter Sutcliffe did, and not making his character any less terrible than it is, but not exploiting the suffering of his victims (in my opinion).
I was just blogging about that visceral feeling you get when you know something is really good. I got that watching this last night - right from the very start, I was thinking 'Bloody hell this is good as anything you will ever see'. And you could tell the first class actors who were involved - Edward Fox for about 30 seconds for instance - knew it too.
Incidentally, to bring things down a bit, I though this week's Law and Order:UK - also about police corruption and prostitution - was utter and complete rubbish. It was so misogynist, so feeble and exploitative, that I'm not going to watch that program any more. Roughly the same subject area - a universe apart.