Andrew Girle's Blog

Crime and Speculative Fiction Blooking

Sherlock Holmes – the Steampunk version

Posted by Andrew Girle on January 13, 2010

Took the kids to see Sherlock Holmes a couple of days ago.

Now let me put this forwards – I enjoyed the Holmes stories, but three things gave me the irrits about the Conan-Doyle scribblings:

1. Watson, a medical doctor with no shortage of courage, is portrayed as nothing but a hopeless fan-boy worthy of nothing more than being Holme’s chronicler, whose sole job it is to blow smoke up Holme’s butt.

2. The writing style, which in the ‘early days’ of serialisation and popularist novelisation was fine, would not in fact get published today (neither would Jane Austen, which famously recently was de-identified and submitted to a number of publishers and agents of romantic fiction, all of whom failed to recognise the story AND rejected it out of hand).

3. The observations of the clues were often not in the text, and so the final deductive process was based on facts not in evidence to the reader (a huge no-no as it is grossly unfair to the reader)

Having seen the movie, I would actually recommend it to you all, not as a faithful reproduction of Holmes a-la Basil Rathbone, but as being ‘in the Holmes traditions’ of fine observation and logical deduction. ALL the clues are now obvious if you know what you are looking for, and when the deductive declamations are made at the climax of the movie, it all makes sense (and there are flashbacks to remind you of what you saw but overlooked).

 The plot is convoluted, but unlike the claims of some reviewers, there is in fact a plot, and just like the original serialisations it leaves some questions unanswered.

A lot of people have commented that it has steampunk elements – and it wasn’t until I looked closely that I recognised some of them (particularly the key to the plot!) as being real-world inventions 30 years earlier than they were. And they probably weren’t actually necessary, they just gave the SFX guys something to build in the back of their workshop over beers at the end of the day.

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One Response to “Sherlock Holmes – the Steampunk version”

  1. Hi Andrew, Thanks for the review. Still not sure if I’ll go and see it OR wait for the DVD. Hope it gave you Fodder for your SteamPunk SFX. Karen:))

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