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Lock, Stock & Smoking Pipe

May 18th, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

Top tip: avoid the one with dinosaurs and a giant octopus on the cover

Jayne bought the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes film on DVD today in an attempt to wipe out the memory of the appalling mockbuster version we watched last week.

The attempt was only partially successful, not through any great failing of the Ritchie film but because the other one was so memorably bad.

Looking at the two covers side by side you can see how it is trying to jump on the bandwagon: Holmes and Watson prominent, Watson with tache and hat, Houses of Parliament visible…  personally I think it would have been a lot more convincing if it didn’t have a giant octopus, flying dragons and T. Rex there.I did notice a DVD in the supermarket the other day of Robin Hood (another story recently given the Hollywood treatment. Again) which also featured a T.Rex on the cover.  I wonder if it is the same company?

Anyway, about the Guy Ritchie film.   There was a bit of a worry that he might turn Holmes into a bit of a geezer, and there was some criticism of the action-packed nature of it, but I really liked it.

Ritchie and others involved in the film have vigorously defended their interpretation of Holmes, saying it is much truer to the original stories than other films.  I think that is true in some respects but not in others, but it doesn’t really matter.

Granada TV and Jeremy Brett got it right as far as filiming the original stories, capturing the mood so perfectly it is pointless to try and copy that.   This film is an alternative, an action film that manages to not take too many liberties with the characters.

Despite Ritchie’s claims, the Holmes of the stories might have kept an untidy house, but he was fastidious in his own personal appearance, so the scruffy Homes of this film is not totally correct, but I think it works.   It is also right that Watson is he same age as Homes and not an old duffer as the early films portrayed him.  It is right that he is intelligent, brave and active as befits a war veteran and doctor, although the film went a little too far with that too.

For example, when Holmes is examining a pocket watch, in a scene very similar to in one of Conan Doyle’s stories, Watson makes all the right deductions regarding the meaning of the scratches around the keyhole and the initials inside the case.   A nice touch, because these were all deductions made by Holmes in the original story.  In the original stories Holmes often asked Watson for his opinion on such matters and Watson’s theories were always logical, plausible but wrong.  In that respect the new film can hardly be more true to the original spirit – but again, it worked for me.

What worked best was the very clear sense of relationship between Holmes and Watson.  Like real friends they bickered a bit and wound each other up.

Given the stated desire to respect the original works it was annoying to find one or little things that didn’t need to be wrong – like Mary Morstan.  Full marks for using the name Mary Morstan, as that was the name of Watson’s first wife, and she was a governess, but in the Sign of the Four, she hired Sherlock Holmes – so why was he being introduced to her here?  A small point, but the sort of thing that winds up Holmes fans out of all proportion.

The real star of the film was London.  There were some fantastic recreations of the city, including a very recognisable Picadilly Circus (but again, why call the hotel the Grand?  Wasn’t that building the Criterion – where Holmes was first introduced to Watson by a mutual friend?).    Some of the geography was a bit skewed, but not on the same scale as films like Bridget Jones.

Lord Blackwood was a great villain, ironically looking very much as most people would have imagined Sherlock Holmes should look.  A good touch to not make Moriarty the baddie – although he was hovering in the background.  We already had Lestrade and Irene Adler in the film: having Moriarty and Mycroft would have been a bit too much, and would leave nothing new for any future films.

The best compliment I can pay to the film is to say that at the end I found myself hoping they make another one with the same cast – and director.

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