“Do not fall asleep… your life may depend upon it.” Spoken with unhurried, calm assurance by the inimitable Jeremy Brett in his role as Sherlock Holmes.
I have been watching Elementary, the latest take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. The great detective is portrayed as suitably brilliant and emotionally detatched, a self-centered and obnoxious recovering drug addict. He uses logical deduction, intuition and his astonishing memory, while convincingly displaying some of the quirky symptoms of Aspergers syndrome. (Are they trying to create another lovable/ despicable character like House?) Having Watson played by a woman is an interesting twist, and the plots echo the Conan Doyle originals in a suitably macabre fashion.
But these clever remakes don’t hold a candle to the old BBC productions!
The older series is brilliant… the pace of the plot, restrained acting, sparse dialogue, accelerating sense of menace and dread, the atmosphere and detail in the settings, the production values, especially the camera angles and the lighting! Alfred Hitchcock, as I blogged a few days ago, had a similar economy of style… no special effects, no spectacular scenes of violence, just suspense that builds and builds! Even when you know the stories, the technical brilliance makes them worth watching again and again.
So I invite you to watch another great story about snakes…The Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In 2005 Julian Barnes published his tenth novel, Arthur and George. Click here to read the review in Slate. Barnes recreates the notorious case of George Edalji, by which Arthur Conan Doyle is said to have changed the course of British jurisprudence, and influenced criminal law around the world.
What is your favourite Conan Doyle story? And have you read Arthur and George?