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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sherlock Holmes gets Warner-ized ... again!

Deutsche Version dieses Blogs hier.
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Tom Scheffler, DER SCHREI


INTRODUCTION

If a love for a certain novel, for the complete works of an author, or for a literal figure is with you for a long time (in my case for almost three decades now, and counting), you might well get revolted a bit, when you have to witness that what you love gets grabbed by Warner Bros,  is being thrown into a big and merciless shredder ... And to see that after that treatment, some product comes out on the other end of that shredder, that only has the most superficial similarity to the literal original left, will make the revulsion start. Well, at least, this is the case with me.

It's kinda like your sweet pussycat has died, and you bury him on the cursed Pet Sematary (from Stephen King's novel). Your cat will come back to you from there, but ... Hmm. Sure, he still answers to the name Fluffy, and his features seem quite familiar at first sight. But all of Fluffy's essence has become somewhat altered, twisted and changed, and not in a good way ... to put it nicely.

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FLASHBACK

During my school days, I got upset big time when watching some really crappy B-movies made by American filmmaker and producer Roger Corman during the 1960's, from stories by Edgar Allan Poe, and from Poe's renowned poem THE RAVEN.

And just a tad later, in the early 1980's, the disaster with the movie made from the (must-read!) novel DIE UNENDLICHE GESCHICHTE / THE NEVERENDING STORY by German author Michael Ende took place.

Oh, and don't even get me *started* talking about the sequels to this  movie, which was a failed attempt of processing a European made work of precious youth literature into a film, which was mainly financed by money from American studios and investors, and therefore had to appeal to the taste of the American market.

Okay, I admit: Compared to the sequels that came after the original THE NEVERENDING STORY movie, this one was even a piece of well made cinema. But as for the idea of bringing an iconic book, a classic, to the screen, so many things went wrong ... painful to watch for me, unless I took an amnesia pill to just forget all the wonderful ideas and details of the book that did not make it into the script.

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BACK TO THE PRESENT

Okay, and now, some 20 years later, I sit here and shake my head violently about a movie that has become an instant blockbuster sensation, loved by the critics and the viewers, hyped without end, and that, anyhow, for me personally is only a big pain in the a... aaa ...  -  annoying  it is, yes.

I am talking about the movie SHERLOCK HOLMES, made in 2009.

I could start now to come up with all that went wrong with this project, but I don't have to! Instead, you simply need to watch the trailer to the recently published BluRay edition of the movie, and listen to one of the last sentences from the narrator. Then you have the quintessence of what irks me and makes me keep a safety distance of at least 2 meters from anything related to this (indeed brillantly made) epic failure ... so take a look and listen:


"Whatever you thought you knew
about Sherlock Holmes
is about to go out the window."

Yep, my feelings exactly. And believe me, I know quite a bit about Sherlock Holmes  ... it would require a really  big  window for me to stand at!

One thing I must give them credit for: They are honest, and at least warn the audience. Hm, maybe this is why the company is called  "Warner Bros"  ... ha, ha.

And now, as it was to be expected after the massive success in cinemas worldwide, installment #2 is in the final makes and will come to theaters on December 22nd 2011. 

Yet, completely ignorant as I was on any news about the first  movie, I got wind of the sequel  only today, by a tweet from Stephen Fry (yes yes, I know: "Thou shalt not bitch about Twitter, Michael, as thou usest it vividly now!")!  I was alarmed, did some research, and found a little documentary  -  take a look:



Oh dang ... the documentary is no longer online!
Well, I'll search for a replacement


They put in all the ingredients that made the first movie a smash hit, but of course they still whipped an extra helping of everything on top. And alongside Robert Downey jr. and Jude Law (who I both like as actors, but  not  in the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson!), they threw in Brad Pitt as Sherlock Holmes' arch nemesis Professor Moriarty [note: That changed since I wrote my blog; Moriaty was portrayed by Jared Harris instead!], and the wonderful Stephen Fry (who had tweeted that it was his "final day on Sherlock Holmes 2 tomorrow") as Holmes' brother Mycroft.

Basically two good choices, no doubt ... but all of their talent will be wasted on a script that has as much to do with the original works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as McDonald's has to do with genuine Scottish cooking.

And just as well as we (until now) search in vain for a   Chicken McHaggis  on the menu of the world's largest fast food chain, we also search in vain for anything that has really a relation to the famous detective stories. Not much to be found, in these soon to be  two installments of something that can not be described as a transcription of a literal original to the big screen, but must be labelled as a  steroid and action packed mutation  of sorts, made with the utmost (and, I admit it, most impressive) expense concerning visuals, effects etc., but still almost without any traces of the literal classic.

Well, as I said in the title: Sherlock got  Warner-ized.  And, seen in a critical light, this is not a good thing. Not when it happens the first time, and also not, when this kind of assault happens again.

And you know what kinda irks me the most?

Any viewers who enjoyed the movie(s), and therefore get interested of actually  reading  the original stories that Doyle published some 100 years ago, will find next to  nothing  in them of what they saw at the theater. They are doomed to be disappointed to the max  -  as these two Sherlock Holmes movies do what Roger Corman did in the 1960's with Poe, and what German director Wolfgang Petersen had to do with Michael Ende's wonderful novel:

Tossing everything into the shredder, chuck away all that is vital and important, slosh together what is left over then, and come up with some mass market product that works just like a meal from the above mentioned fast food restaurant: Yummy while you eat it, but probably you will be hungry again one hour later.

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Anyone interested in a worthy, and for the most part congenial dramatization of the great detective's adventures should get their hands on the Sherlock Holmes TV series made by Granada Television for the BBC during the 1980's, starring the late Jeremy Brett as the ultimate embodiment of the iconic figure that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has created.

Here is a two piece snippet where you can get a more intimate (and accurate!) picture of the person and methods of Sherlock Holmes, and also on the character of Dr Watson, Holmes' friend, colleague and chronicler. The Greek (I guess) subtitles are a random gift of the videos's poster, and belong  not  to the original Sherlock Holmes universe, ha ha!




This renowned TV production comprises of 41 episodes plus 5 feature length films.

Seasons 1 and 2 are downright brilliant; season 3 is also almost on the same level. And although the fourth and final season has several flaws (due to changes in the production policies of the BBC, budget cuttings, and due to the declining health of actor Jeremy Brett), even most of those final episodes still bear far more closeness to the original than both blockbuster installments of the Warner franchise combined. And this, believe me, for me personally is a really saddening statement on behalf of those two films.

Oh, and I made a little hommage to the great detective myself a while ago, where he teaches his friend Dr Watson about his methods of deduction - featuring me as Sherlock Holmes, and yours truly as Dr Watson :-)! Here you go - hope you enjoy:


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Find the complete written Sherlock Holmes works
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
please check
here!


The Granada Television Sherlock Holmes series
as complete editions:







 The Granada Television series
As single seasons and more
here.


And for those who want to check what I'm complaining about:










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1 comment:

steve poling said...

I share some of your opinions about the Sherlock Holmes movies as well as a preference of the Jeremy Brett portrayals. The movie's plot bore an uncomfortable resemblance to many episodes of Scooby-Doo. Ruh, roh!

However, I found my harshest criticism evaporated upon a fresh perusal of the canon. No, there were no fiery explosions, but the canonical Holmes is much more a man of action than Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett might suggest. I've elaborated my reasoning here.