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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sherlock Holmes and the thoroughly modern affair

The second Guy Ritchie directed Sherlock Holmes movie doesn't hit cinema screens until December, but Warner Brothers have already confirmed that there will be a third movie from the same team. Warner Bros has set Drew Pearce to write Sherlock Holmes 3, continuing the Guy Ritchie-directed series that stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.

The first in the Guy Ritchie Holmes series was a huge success and seemed to please most film fans, but it received mixed reactions from traditionalist Holmes fans who see this new Holmes as too far from Doyle's original character. I enjoyed the movie myself, but I did feel that it more resembled a steam punk influenced Victorian action movie than a Holmes adventure. However the studio, at least, didn't bow down to political correctness and it was refreshing to see Holmes with his trademark pipe, unlike the BBC series, Sherlock which has the detective on nicotine patches. I applaud the makers of the movie in keeping the pipe, especially in these days of tobacco hysteria. At least they didn't make the mistake of the current producers of the James Bond movies. They've taken away Bond's dick and look what's happened to the world's favourite spy! James Bland, anyone! The current screen Bond is indistinguishable from any other screen hero, but at least Holmes in all his incarnations has managed to retain something of the unique character which made him such a success in the first place.

Because the BBC series is superbly entertaining and the pairing of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, works well, that the series is set in contemporary times doesn't really matter - after all several of the Basil Rathbone Holmes movies were contemporary. But at the end of the day the series isn't really Sherlock Holmes, just as Guy Ritchie's movies, entertaining in themselves, are not really Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes though continues to go on and on and as well as the new movie this December and  a second series of Sherlock early next year, the great detective is kept alive in print by new authors taking up the pen left by Doyle and continuing to add to the remarkable evergreen character. Holmes has been presented at one time or another as a boy, a woman and even a dog, fox and mouse. As well as everything else between - I once read a short story in which Sherlock Holmes was a motor car and his assistant was the loyal, Datsun.

So does it really matter how characters like Sherlock Holmes are presented? The variations on the characters and themes may not please the purists, but they might just encourage new readers to try the original canon - and that can only be a good thing.

"There is still more excitement and invention in the original tales than a thousand screen incarnations."

No matter how many actors, how many writers tamper with the creation, Holmes will never die and will always be out there, wearing that deerstalker and puffing on the pipe. The detective is a hard man to kill as even original creator, Conan Doyle discovered when he tried to hurl the detective over those waterfalls that I can't be bothered to Google the correct spelling of.

Hey spelling is so old Holmes...get wiv the program!

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