Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Holmes



My brother and I sat on my front porch last night into the early morning hours smoking cigars, drinking wine, and talking about the big questions in life. Inevitably--somewhere around 1 am--the conversation shifted to talk of Sherlock Holmes, and the upcoming movie version.

We're both Sherlock fans, and are both slightly nervous about the new film.

Robert Downey, Jr. seems like an obvious pick for Holmes on many levels. Intelligent. Familiar with opiates. Able to employ a passable accent. Both my brother and myself think Downey could do the job, except for one minor problem: He's too charming. Holmes was decidedly not charming, and we doubt it's a quality that Downey is able to turn off. Another concern is that the new movie is going to be too flashy, too James Bond, too Guy Ritchie. We're afraid Ritchie will play up the drug use too much in an attempt to be edgy, which is problematic. The drugs should be in, no doubt, but not the main focus. Holmes is a functional drug abuser. He's not John Cheever.

But we're hopeful.

Holmes is such a great character. He's one of the only characters in the history of literature who seems to have utterly transcended his creator. When you learn about Arthur Conan Doyle you're kind of like, really? This guy created Holmes? He wasn't a bad man, but he wasn't Holmes, either. He bought into spiritualism and believed in fairies, and was something of a nationalist, which is always unattractive. Yet from this all too human mind, one of the greatest contributions to pulp literature was issued. I refer you to my previous post about my views on the nature of creativity.

Holmes, in able hands, is wonderful. Doyle wrote some awesome Holmes Stories: Hound Of the Baskervilles, A Study In Scarlet, The Engineer's Thumb...but the versions of Holmes imagined by Caleb Carr, Alan Moore, T.C. Boyle, and Michael Chabon are also transcendent homages. Holmes in able hands is wonderful. Holmes in more limited hands is, well, still Holmes.

So, while there are areas in which Sherlock nerds like my brother and I may be able to squabble with Guy Ritchie's upcoming version, it's hard to imagine things getting too bad.

But then again, we are talking about Hollywood...

1 comment:

Willie Y said...

Here is a post that I wrote about Sherlock Holmes mysteries.