With Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes due for release in December, fans of the books are already getting hot under the collar. There’s the to-be-expected grumbling about the liberties being taken with the sleuth legend and some are going so far as to say that Sir Arthur C.D. must be turning in his grave .
The advance trailer (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4K3aM5H5KM
) seems to confirm rumours that Ritchie has gone for a sexier, more action-oriented Holmes, with Robert Downey Jnr. sword-fighting, bare-knuckle-brawling and getting up close and personal with Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler. But is this such a leap? I’ve read most of the Holmes stories and it’s got to be said, he’d give some of today’s rock stars a run for their money in terms of his drug use. He’s an enthusiastic cocaine user and occasionally injects morphine as well.
As for weapons training and martial arts, Holmes and Watson both carry canes and pistols, but the guns don’t get much use, only being used seven times in all the stories. Although Watson describes Holmes as an expert with a sword he never actually demonstrates this in the books. However, Holmes is more than willing to use his fists. In The Sign of the Four, Holmes introduces himself to a prize-fighter as:
"The amateur who fought three rounds with you at Alison's rooms on the night of your benefit four years back." McMurdo responds by saying, "Ah, you're one that has wasted your gifts, you have! You might have aimed high, if you had joined the fancy."
In "The Adventure of the Empty House", Holmes tells Watson how he used martial arts to overcome uber-villain Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. He states that "I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me."
The biggest change Ritchie may be making in terms of Holmes’ character is in relation to the opposite sex. Holmes seems pretty asexual in general and the the only woman he ever show major interest in is Irene Adler. According to Watson, she was referred to on more than one occasion by Holmes as "The Woman". Though she only appears in A Scandal in Bohemia, she’s mentioned in multiple other Holmes stories. However, it is important to point out that Watson says, "It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler." It was the thrill of being beaten by an adversary, especially a woman, that made Holmes fascinated with her. The scriptwriter obviously felt this wasn’t exciting enough, hence the apparent on-screen shenanigans in Ritchie’s version.
Either way, I can’t wait to see it and it’ll be an interesting addition to the (long) list of movies about Sherlock Holmes