Sherlock Holmes And Dr. Watson On Screen – Part 1: Intro and comparison between the BBC’s Sherlock series and Guy Ritchie’s movie series

Sherlock Holmes (r) and Dr. John B. Watson. Il...

(cross-posted from cinesprit.com)

Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. John Watson are two of the most famous and long-lasting characters in fiction. They possibly have the largest number of on-screen interpretations of any literary characters…except for possibly Dracula?

This blog series is a look at some of the many interpretations of Holmes and Watson in movies and TV series. From the recent “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, back to the classic Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce movie series of the 1940s. There are far too many versions to consider them all, but I thought it might be fun to look at the varied ways these classic literary characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have been brought to the screen over the years.

Not all have stuck to the original stories. In “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”, Billy Wilder poked some fun at the Holmes myth. Another movie has Holmes meet Sigmund Freud in Vienna, and parallels are drawn between the two men. Even if one was fictional and the other real. In “Without a Clue”, Michael Caine plays a somewhat dull-witted Holmes who is all too full of himself, while Watson, played by Ben Kingsley is the real deductive genius in the background.

Amongst TV adaptations, Jeremy Brett’s Holmes is one of the most noteworthy and arguably the one most loyal to the literary creation (Btw, I spotted a very young Jude Law in one of the Brett episodes. He can only be about 16-18 yrs old?). Let’s dive in at the present day versions.

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Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris works because it unabashedly plays with all the romantic fantasies associated with Paris. Or more precisely, the Paris of Hemingway which he wrote about in “A Moveable Feast”. The film indulges us in a fantasy world made up of the artists of that period. Conjuring an illusion which is a joy and fun to watch.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is an American screenplay writer. Successful in Hollywood, but who’s real dream is to write literary novels in Paris. To him, writing for commercial Hollywood movies is not worth the same as literary fiction. Right here, is one of the major themes, and questions, of the movie. Are we ever satisfied with what we have, or the time we live in?  Continue reading

The Man Who Planted Trees – Small Changes Make The Difference

The Man Who Planted Trees DVD cover

(Cross-posted from cinesprit.wordpress.com)

“The Man Who Planted Trees” is an animated film by Frédéric Back based on the popular short story by Jean Giono. This beautifully animated film is about a shepherd living in the Provence region of southern France who single-handedly plants an entire forest, one acorn at a time. If you like impressionist paintings such as those of Claude Monet, then this film is for you.

“The Man Who Planted Trees” is a work of art in itself. It is a painting come to life. This film is not well know because it is only about 30 minutes. Hence it was never shown as a main feature film. I was fortunate to see this film at a university film society. At the time, there were no prints in the UK at all. The movie had to be shipped from the production company in Canada, but it was worth the cost and effort. Everybody I looked at after seeing the movie was awestruck by its beauty.

Amongst numerous other awards, this film won the Oscar for best animated short film, was nominated at Cannes, and won the Grand Prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Frédéric Back had previously won an Oscar for another animated short and that helped him realise this film.

The story of a very simple person with sparse means achieving so much, is universally inspriring. It is like the famous saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The shepherd patiently plants acorns, day after day for years as he walks around his mountain. In the beginning, the mountain is barren. After some decades, there is a huge forest. Continue reading