August 2, 2015 at 7:53 pm #1210
I thought I would start discussion on Mr. Holmes since I was curious what other Holmesians think of it. I am personally naturally skeptical of any new Sherlock Holmes related movies or material, and so I scrutinize every new Holmes portrayal very harshly. Despite this, I found that Ian McKellen did a pretty good job, and I would have loved to have seen more of his old, snarky, forgetful Holmes. I think it was a very interesting premise, to show Holmes in his 90s, and having to live in a world where he is famous and being portrayed on screen! (The scene where he watches that Lady Grey film was *hilarious*!) I enjoyed Ian McKellen’s subtly and elegance, but also his vulnerability and the pain of Holmes having to deal with the loss of his once sharp mind. Yet despite my like of McKellen, I think, as a whole, I did not like this film very much. I did not feel it was accurately Holmesian, and that ultimately the story did not understand Holmes at all. I do love snapshots of this film, most especially the whole sequence of Holmes discovering Roger after his attack with the wasps to when he breaks down weeping because of his love for the boy to his realization it wasn’t the bees! (Of course not! These are Holmes’ bees, for goodness sakes!) I didn’t like the film as a whole, though, primarely, the conclusions he draws at the end.
Firstly, the film’s treatement of Watson was unforgiveable. Though, I understand why they portrayed him that way. The whole film is about Sherlock Holmes learning to make that human connection, and with that singular focus, they needed a lonely Holmes who doesn’t even have his Boswell with him at the end of his days. It is what makes the ending of Holmes finally finding a family, of sorts, with Roger and his mother, work. However, to remove Watson like this is going too far in a Holmes-related fiction! Watson and Holmes would *never* become estranged. Watson is his anchor, his friend, his brother, the one person of whom Holmes truly and deeply loved. You can’t just separate Holmes and Watson like that! It is unthinkable! So, this film loses major points because of this fact.
Second, the whole film was very realistic, a little too realistic. I think they removed Holmes much too much from the Canon. I think the above treatment of Watson is evidence of this, but also the whole style and feel of the film. The realism made you lose the “magic” of the world of Sherlock Holmes, and took a more cynical edge to Watson’s stories, as if he very much doctored (no pun intended!) them up for sensational purposes. Obviously, in the Canon Holmes was constantly getting after Watson for his “romantic” portrayal (until Holmes had to write a story himself, of course!), but that was for the sake of the story’s format and structure, and not to “glamorize” Holmes. I don’t appreciate the film’s put down of the Canon like that.
Thirdly, Holmes’ self-actualization at the end came off as truly false for me. Holmes would never come to those conclusions that he came to. I do appreciate the idea of bringing a change to Holmes so that he values people more than logic, to see people with needs that are important to meet. I am always up for the idea of bringing Holmes into a more vulnerable place, as he learns to make a connection with the world around him, rather than being so caught up in his own. Yet this is tricky ground to walk, because while you can delve into the deeper parts of the character, you can’t remove him from his place as Sherlock Holmes, otherwise we lose the embodiment of who he is. Holmes would never decide to tell fiction to people just because it is something that they want to hear. In the movie, Holmes was upset he didn’t reach out to Mrs. Kelmot, to tell her that she could join him in his solitary lifestyle, that he wish he could have told her anything just to prevent her from committing suicide. Or when he writes to Mr. Umezaki about his father and makes up some sensational story about him joining the British intelligence just to give him closure. No, none of this is right! Holmes’ adherence to the truth is a vital part of his character. “Any truth is better than indefinite doubt.” You can’t sacrifice Holmes’ attributes just for the sake of leading him to a more self-realized place.
Now, to add some compare and contrast, with the CBS show Elementary, I think it does an unparalleled job at achieving what Mr. Holmes was trying to achieve. Elementary gives Holmes so much depth and vulnerability, and opens his character up to the people who surround him. Holmes constantly has to learn how to open his heart to others and to see them as human beings and not just puzzles to solve. I also like the way they show the consequences of his laissez faire attitude about the things he does and says, and how he has to take responsibility for them. Yet, they also show how often Holmes is right, and that his blunt and truthful words can also help people. One example that comes to mind is the episode where Holmes tries to help Detective Bell when he is going through physical therapy for his arm. Holmes was a part of Bell’s major injury, the consequences of his dismissive and arrogant behavior lead to someone trying to shoot him, but of course Bell stepped in the way of the bullet. It seems as if Bell won’t be able to come back on the job because he can’t use his arm, but he tries to get it working again through the therapy. Yet it doesn’t seem to be working, and Bell becomes despairing and self-pitying, which was totally understandable considering the circumstances, but I like how Holmes spurs him out of this funk in a way only Sherlock Holmes could! Here is the exchange:
Sherlock: I was attempting to get a rise out of you, to remind you that no matter where you go or how tedious the work you undertake, it will not change what you are, a detective.
Detective Bell: I am a detective.
Sherlock: Well, you still carry the title, yeah. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? It’s a calling. It’s your calling. You are not an analyst. You are not an assessor of data. You transferred from Major Crimes either because your pride would not allow you to occupy the same space as me or because you’re feeling sorry for yourself. In either case, a pathetic excuse.
Detective Bell: I have a tremor in my hand. I can’t shoot, can’t get out on the street and work cases because of you!
Sherlock: Bollocks! You could’ve stayed in Major Crimes until you completed your rehab!
Detective Bell: You’re assuming my rehab can be completed!
Sherlock: Because I have faith in you! I have faith in your perseverance! Be my friend, don’t be my friend, whatever, but don’t be so foolish as to confuse punishing me with punishing yourself!
Detective Bell: You know what I thought the first time I met you? Man, it comes easy for that guy. Well, I’m sorry. It doesn’t come that easy to the rest of us.
Sherlock: I am a drug addict, Marcus. A drug addict. And it might seem like an abstraction to you because I have been sober since I made your acquaintance. But two years ago, I was as pitiable a soul as you will ever meet. With help, I fought back, and I got a little bit better. I know what I’m supposed to do with my life. Do you?
Holmes is blunt, holds nothing back, and calls the spade a spade, haha, but I like how Elementary shows how it can be good thing, and how he can connect with people on that level, because sometimes people need to hear the truth. Truth, even if it hurts, can also be healing and freeing. So, in Mr. Holmes, it would have been better if Holmes had written to Mr. Umezaki a letter of sincere apology. He couldn’t rememeber what had happened with his father, but that he deeply regrets and apologizes for his thoughtlessness and insenstivity at the time. I think a more heart to heart, honest letter would have been more Holmes’ style, rather than some tall tale. Also, I think Holmes realization, in the film, that merely laying out Mrs. Kelmot’s problems in such a black and white fashion was actually more harmful than helpful, was good enough in itself for what the film was trying to achieve, not that it means having such a clear, objective, and logical view is wrong in of itself. The key is in how he treats people, that Mrs. Kemolt needed someone to connect with and understand and feel with her, not lay out all her problems coldly. Yet not that there is anything wrong, necessarily, in Holmes’ core personality. This autonomous, clear and precise thinking machine, is what makes Holmes Holmes, afterall. I don’t think you can take that away from the character.
Anyway, you guys can weight in on what you thought of the film! Haha. If you agree or disagree with what I’ve laid out here. I just didn’t see our favorite detective in this film, so I give it low marks for that. However, the film, in of itself, was very well done.
- This topic was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by NoirAlice.
"I'm afraid I can't explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?"
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