Sherlock Holmes

1: Analysis of the Book

The story by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Mazarin Stone, is classic Sherlock Holmes. In it we have all of the familiar elements; a straightforward villain and non-violent crime, Holmes fully immersed in deducing the answer to the case without ever leaving his apartment, Dr. Watson visiting Holmes and fussing over his friend’s health, a member of the British government implicated in the crime and then “pardoned” by Holmes, the successful resolution of the case without aid of Scotland Yard. In essence, we have a perfectly satisfying Holmsian experience.

2: Analysis of the Movie

The movie was well made for a film that is set in 1890’s London. The film crew used mainly green screens to get around the historic setting, but for the street scenes they actually used cobbled alleyways in Chatham and Manchester, England. The British director, Guy Ritchie, wanted his version of Holmes, played by Robert Downey Jr., to play against the popular image of the character, which might be the reason for all the negativity directed towards the film. Ritchie still kept several traditional details such as Holmes’ apartment being quite messy. These details notwithstanding, the special effects and action sequences were what made the movie appealing to younger audiences. Additionally the movie was well received by critics who nominated it for several Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Empire Awards. To its credit, Robert Downey, Jr. won a Golden Globe for Best Actor with this movie.

3: Analysis of the Adaptation

Trying to adapt an old time book, like Sherlock Holmes, into a modern day movie that this generation of kids will like is not an easy task. Judging by the movie reviews, die-hard Holmes fans did not appreciate Ritchie’s updated version at all. On the other hand, younger, less well-read viewers seemed to appreciate the period movie with the action hero. On the positive side, Ritchie breathes new life into his subject and converts a new generation to the mythos of Sherlock Holmes, the independent-minded great detective. For this, Guy Ritchie is owed a debt of gratitude. The fact that he did not portray Sherlock with the same gravity and depth older fans might be accustomed to should not diminish his revival of a traditional literary character. Even the most jaded reviewers noted that the special effects were seamlessly done and the setting and costumes were rich and evocative. In essence, this film is a successful adaptation in that it remains true to the essential characteristics of the original while updating the style to be in sync with today’s sensibilities.

4: Online Research

In this online review of Sherlock Holmes, the website is almost like the Screenit Movie Review site. It gives a paragraph of information at the top, then it goes into facts about why a parent might not want their kid to watch this movie. Sex and Nudity score 4 out of 10 on a 1 to 10 scale, Violence and Gore scores a 7 out of 10, and Profanity scores a 2 out of 10. It also gives the cases of each kind of thing that is bad with the movie. Overall this site was not too negative about Sherlock Holmes, the movie, however it did warn parents to talk with their kids before and after viewing it.

Roger Ebert gives his usual movie review  being very informative and interesting. But he pans the movie, seeing how bad it really is, which is the case with almost every other reviewer of this movie. In the end, Ebert relents and says that even Ritchie’s heretical view of Sherlock Holmes cannot tarnish his legacy.

This blog review about Sherlock Holmes is about the only review on the web, that I can even find at the time of writing, that doesn’t pan the movie, but actually raves about it. While this person (who happens to be someone named Juanita) does have some problems with how Robert Downey Jr. played Holmes, “Especially because of his terrible English accent.” She actually likes the movie very much, and rates it higher than the other adaptations, which is quite surprising.

5: Critical Analysis

Did the period detail in the film put you (mentally) in Victorian England? Or did the flippant, postmodern tone pull you out of Victorian England? Or did they somehow work together to create a feeling of immersion?

The period detail in the film did help me feel like it was in Victorian England. I feel that the clothing from that period was replicated or even reproduced very well for it being a modern day movie. The fact that the director was able to obtain firearms for the movie from that time period also went well in making the movie  feel Victorian in style. The mode of transportation, which happened to still be horse drawn carriages and buggies, was also very well replicated to keep the film in that time period. Even though the postmodern tone of the actors was enough to be a distraction to some viewers, and it didn’t help me for that matter, I felt that the rest of the movie was able to keep me immersed in the time period. In fact, the movie was so true to the time period that it got nominated for an Academy Award in the form of Best Art Direction.


2 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes

  1. I agree with Anthony that the art direction did mentally put me in Victorian England. A lot of representations of this era in film/television/books depicts fancy clothing and distinct manners of this cultural renaissance yet forgo the booming industry of the country. Sherlock Holmes (2009) depicts both of these aspects of the Victorian era which gives the setting a bit more credibility.

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