Friday, November 27, 2009

Film Accuracy, or why "Sherlock Holmes" is going to ruin an Icon.

If there is one thing I can pride myself on being regarding films, is that I am a purist. If I could, I would put every piece of dialogue from a novel into its film adaptation. I think that is why I love Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet so much. You could flip through basically every page in the play and follow along in the movie (all 242 minutes of it). Yes, certain scenes were switched around; however they were done in order to keep the story linear on the screen. Branagh didn't give the Prince of Denmark superpowers or anything else as fantastical as that.

I think that is my main problem with Sherlock Holmes. Holmes, as even Conan Doyle has written, was not a handsome man nor one who did "brute work." Watching the trailer for the new movie had me gagging just a little. They (the collective "Hollywood") have made him into a bloody comic book character! And before anyone argues, Guy Ritchie pitched the movie in comic book form. That was the only way Warner Bros. was going to agree to make the film. If this film is successful they will be doing [dreaded] sequels to create a new franchise.

After reading several reviews, Hugh Laurie's House is closer to Holmes than Downey's. Holmes is not a superhero. Holmes was not a nice character. He was disagreeable, a cocaine addict, experimented with other drugs "to relieve the boredom between cases," not afraid to break the law, and was a racist ("along with having a deep mistrust of foreigners") and chauvinist. If anyone did a close adaptation in today's filmland, the MPAA would assign it an R rating. I personally love the character because he is an anti-hero.

I fear anyone who will read the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle after seeing the movie will become quickly bored and disinterested for the lack of "action." Action has taken over the observation aspect in this movie. How the hell is Holmes going to solve the case without observation, his trademark? Ritchie will be smart and try to sprinkle in some "clues." Conan Doyle would be rolling in his grave if he found out Holmes had "inspiration" or a "light-bulb" moment without the appropriate clues. The audience needs to be able to piece together the mystery in the second viewing themselves. If they cannot do that, the film has failed miserably.

Hopefully kids will see the movie and then read the original stories. Anything that gets people reading is good, my public service announcement of the day. It will be a measure of their character if they can understand and appreciate the real Holmes though.

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