Sherlock Holmes, originally casted with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in the 1930’s, has been a classic since it first came out. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce starred in three movies: The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Terror By Night, and The Women In Green. These were the three original films created in the late 1930’s and mid 1940’s. As years passes, new directors decided to create their own Sherlock Holmes film with a new cast. In 1979, Murder By Decree was released starring Christopher Plummer and James Mason.
A little later in 1985, Steven Spielberg directed a film about Sherlock Holmes when he was young and still in school. Finally, the most recent Sherlock Holmes came out in 2009 starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Sherlock Holmes has become somewhat of a legend, considering almost everyone in the last two or three generations has at least heard the name. Looking at each film, they all seem to capture Sherlock Holmes the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intended him to be, in one sense or another. When analyzing each film though, there are certain distinctions from one another.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Terror By Night, and The Woman in Green are different than the others for the simple reason that they were made in the 1940’s. The film quality was worse, and the filming techniques were not as creative as they are today. The one thing I did like most about these films with Basil Rathbone was the originality of the story. The things that happened were not very far-fetched, which made it believable that the crimes that Sherlock Holmes attempted to solve could have actually happened.
In the 2009 version of Sherlock Holmes, the idea of a man manipulating an entire council into believing he has powers and arose from the grave is quite a stretch. This goes for Young Sherlock Holmes as well; the miraculous actions, accusations, discoveries and outcomes of the predicaments young Sherlock and Watson get themselves into are not all that plausible. Murder by Decree was a whole different kind of Sherlock Holmes in my opinion. The writers were very enlightening in their ideas and conclusion of the real tory of Jack the Ripper.
I had heard many theories on who he was and what the significance was of all the women he killed, and the way they were able to incorporate their theory into a Sherlock Holmes film was done incredibly well. I also really admired the creativity in the newest Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. In previous films, especially in Murder By Decree (and with the exception of Young Sherlock Holmes and his fencing skills), Holmes was not much of a fighter.
Though, in the version with Robert Downey Jr. they showed how he would think about every single thing he would do before he actually did it. For example, Holmes was in a boxing ring and fighting this big guy. For a while Holmes was just messing around with him and not even throwing punches; that is, until he decided he wanted to finish the fight. Holmes envisioned every move he was about to make, and then executed each and every move perfectly. The two films I see stand out most include The Hound of the Baskervilles and the 2009 Sherlock Holmes.
The reason they are so different is because the case that Holmes was assigned to solve in the two films were not nearly as probable as the other films. Of the three films that Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce starred in, The Hound of the Baskervilles was the only one based on something fictitious. The case in that movie was about a dog that was over a hundred years old and came from hell to kill the Baskervilles. Although Holmes may not have believed this story to be true, the movie set it out to look like that.
In contrast, The Woman in Green was about hypnosis, which is, as far as I know, real. Terror By Night was simply a murder and theft case, that in turn proved to not slow Sherlock Holmes one bit in his investigation in discovering that which was stolen and the murder. To continue, Murder by Decree was based upon a true story, so that was not hard to comprehend. Young Sherlock is another partial-exception: the story itself about people getting drugged was not unbelievable, but certain aspects of the movie proved to show the directors fantasy side of Sherlock’s adventures.
A perfect moment to explain this point is when Sherlock’s friend Elizabeth’s dad invents his flying machine. This invention in real life would never fly, but it doesn’t exactly fall under the fiction category. So this leads me to my second movie that sticks out the most: Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. The plot is of a ritualistic man who apparently has power and rose from the dead to take over the world. Now even though it turns out all his powers were well thought out tricks, the plot is still different than the other four in the sense of reality.
In comparing the six movies, they have all done a great job in capturing Sherlock Holmes character, from the mysterious and genius side to the impulsive and sly side. The differences between the films are not apparent at first glance, but after a little analysis, a few subtle variations become apparent. The main differences I found were about how the cases came about the how people interacted with each other. Other than those, Sherlock successfully lived through many faces and will most likely come about once again in some number of years.