Thursday, December 24, 2009

In anticipation of the Sherlock Holmes film

From the moment I first saw the trailer, I have been eagerly awaiting this movie. We won't see it tomorrow--we have other Christmas traditions that are more important--but we will be there Saturday night. A few folks have asked me why I cared so much, so I thought I'd answer the question here.

First, if the teaser is any indication, the movie is made of awesome. I love Guy Ritchie's work, I'm a huge fan of Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law is a fine actor (though a bit cold on screen in most roles), and the Holmes cum action cum steampunk vibe is immensely attractive. If Sherlock Holmes as a character debuted in this movie, I'd want to see it.

More important to me, though, is the fact that I have loved the Holmes stories since I was a child. (I've avoided re-reading them for that very reason, but now I will probably go back and finally try them again.) They were among the very first stories I read as a very young kid, and they triggered lifelong loves of mystery, the power of the mind, superheroes, and science fiction.

I know the last two points may seem odd, because few would call the Holmes stories superhero or SF fiction, but in many ways they were. Holmes was the self-made superhero, the man who through his abilities and his efforts transcended his limits and became more than human. Similarly, in these stories Conan Doyle so perfectly portrayed the rationalist mindset that was a mainstay of at least Golden Age SF that when I started reading SF almost immediately thereafter, it felt like home. It still does.

Holmes also appealed so much to me because he was so clearly boiling and churning under the still surface he worked so hard to evince. His anger, his passions, his pain--all were eating at him, under control most of the time but not always, not always.

I've felt since the first of the Jeremy Brett BBC Holmes episodes that Brett was the perfect Holmes, but that didn't stop me from being able to enjoy repeat viewings of the Rathbone shows (yes, I still like them) or most of the many Holmes movies. I don't expect Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey, Jr. to unseat Brett, but I do believe that Ritchie's vision of the character and my own are not so far off from one another, and so I quite look forward to the film.


steveburnett said...

We're looking forward to the Holmes film here for many of the same reasons: I like all of Ritchie's films including Rocknrolla, as well as the actors involved. I agree with your remarks about Holmes as a self-made superhero, and in my case Holmes as one of the earliest versions of the Competent Man archetype that I encountered when young probably has a lot to do with how thoroughly I read the Doc Savage novels in the Bantam reprints. I look forward to your thoughts on the film after you see it.

Best wishes, Steve

Mark said...

And I to yours.

John Lambshead said...

The Lambsheads are going en famille on Boxing Day to see the New Holmes. The trailors have raised anticipation. John

Mark said...

We shall see it on the same day. I look forward to your reactions.

Elizabeth said...

The kids and I also hope to see Sherlock Holmes this weekend, if we can coordinate it with the Glaxo Tournament. :-) I had never thought of Sherlock Holmes as a superhero, but after reading your comments I do see that. I certainly think that his character was one of those that, in my formative years, shaped my love for and attraction to mysteries but also any great stories populated by smart, perceptive, talented men.

Mark said...

Holmes is definitely, as Steve noted, an archetype of The Competent Man who plays such a big role in SF. He's also a superb example of the man with his own morals walking a certain type of very well-mannered mean streets.

John Lambshead said...

Mark, I enjoyed the film immensely. I think Ritchie has done a great job of reinterpreting Holmes for a new audience. The recreation of Victorian London is very good. The ship launch scene was filmed here at Chatham Docks, incidentally. The English accents mostly work - I only detected a few American vowel sounds - :)

Mark said...

I'm glad to hear it, John. I'll be seeing it in about four hours, after some writing and what I trust will be a lovely dinner out with family and friends.


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