As an avid fan of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, I was really excited to read about the upcoming film adaptation, to be directed by Guy Ritchie. It’s planned to be released in 2010 and apparently is not going to be based on any of Conan Doyle’s stories, but on a currently unreleased comic book by Lionel Wigram. There isn’t much information about this yet but the film is described as removing some of Holmes” “Victorian stuffiness,” and “including playing up his skills as a bare-knuckle boxer and expert swordsman.” It’s clear they want to update Sherlock Holmes and make him more ‘adventuresome’ for a more action-packed movie.
Now I don’t want to rubbish the idea without giving it a chance (I just can’t help myself), but I do wonder whether what makes Sherlock Holmes so popular is his inherent Englishness, witty dialogue and deductive skills. And I think we’ve got to remember that the popular perception of Holmes as a stuffy Victorian gentleman isn’t quite true as there are countless gripping and exciting moments in the stories. And these moments of action contrasted with long periods of thought and uncertainty and also Holmes’ loyal and meaningful friendship with Doctor Watson, make them even more enthralling than if the stories were just long explosion-filled shootouts, sword fights and handsome cab chases. I mean the man does wrestle with his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty, push him off the edge of the Reichenbach Falls making Dr Watson believe Holmes is dead in “The Final Problem” and then return in disguise three years later, making Dr Watson faint in “The Empty House”. Isn’t that enough action?
What I don’t want them to lose in this adaptation is the sort of things that make me love Sherlock Holmes so much. He seems a cold hard man but has a strong underlying friendship with Dr Watson and in ‘The Adventure of the Three Garridebs’, he believes Watson has been shot and nearly panics, showing his emotion for the first time and when he realises Watson isn’t badly hurt, says “If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive.”. Watson writes afterwards,
It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.
It is this poignant depth of character alongside just the right amount of action that makes Conan Doyle’s stories so remarkable and popular and I just really hope this isn’t lost.
I know it probably seems like I want to keep the character of Sherlock Holmes the same as the one I know and love, but I just hope they can add action and excitement to the film, introducing the stories to a wider audience, while retaining Conan Doyle’s beautifully original depth of character. I reckon this might be one of those films that’s enjoyed more by people who haven’t read all the books so I’ll try to reserve judgment till I get more information. Anyway, it’s nice to see someone taking up the Sherlock Holmes character again and I’m almost surprised that nobody’s thought of doing it before.