Jump to content

Sherlock Holmes (2009)


Overstreet
 Share

Recommended Posts

The question isn't whether or not people who are concerned about spooky content are wackos. They're not. They have every right to be concerned about content.

The question is: Are the accusations that Sherlock Holmes is a movie full of witchcraft valid? The answer is

no. It's a movie about a charlatan who wants to scare people into thinking he has occult powers, when in fact he's just a con artist.

And whatever the case: Let's say the villains in this film practice witchcraft. Would it thus follow that Christians should avoid the movie? Only if they're also going to avoid Scripture, which contains stories about witchcraft.

Now... if the film were to celebrate and recommend witchcraft, and portray it in a way that seems attractive and ultimately a good idea... then we might have a problem.

I see what you're saying. I was referring more to the people who do have concerns about spooky content. But you have a point about the accusations that are missing the mark.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 162
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I am so grateful for the warnings about this film included at CT.

Not the warnings from the reviewer, but the warnings from the readers.

Exhibit B:

Is it just me, or does Hollywood seem to be getting darker in some of the films they make? The latest Batman movie, movies about vampires and the Wolfman (upcoming), Paranormal Activity, Season of the Witch (also upcoming), etc. This movie was illustrative of what seems to be a trend in that direction. The plot involved satanism, magic and witchcraft, with some vivid scenes that might, indeed, be disturbing to some. I, myself, have reservations about the movie because of these things.

Getting darker? It's just you.

Seriously... has this person spent their entire life in a cave? Are they unfamiliar with the long standing horror tradition of American (and foreign) film?! Seriously...there is no valid or bright excuse for this person's perspective other than willful ignorance of history.

And last but certainly not least...

I was really looking forward to this movie and I thought Downey was very good as Holmes but I must say the occult stuff was disturbing. When I go to a movie I want to laugh, cry, be inspired or be challenged NOT assaulted. Seriously, I sat in my seat, hung my head, and apologized to Jesus for bringing Him there. I do not expect Hollywood to make Christian movies, but I would love for them to just not violate my spirit. These reviews I have read remind me a bit of a man who was running for governor of a southern state several years ago. The loosing moment in his campaign began when he made a remark about the weather and commented that you just had to endure it "like a woman who was being raped should just lie back and enjoy it." I WILL NOT just sit back and enjoy a movie that is raping my very spirit and then merely rate my rapist. It is time for us movie goers to stop this spiritual promiscuity.

Um, so... what did you think of Antichrist?

Heh. Honestly...many of these quotes sadden me. Such approaches to faith and Christianity leave me weary... such a fearful and petty god is so unworthy of praise... mine or anyone elses...and yet, it often seems to be the prevailing face of Faith I find...

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And last but certainly not least...

I was really looking forward to this movie and I thought Downey was very good as Holmes but I must say the occult stuff was disturbing. When I go to a movie I want to laugh, cry, be inspired or be challenged NOT assaulted. Seriously, I sat in my seat, hung my head, and apologized to Jesus for bringing Him there. I do not expect Hollywood to make Christian movies, but I would love for them to just not violate my spirit. These reviews I have read remind me a bit of a man who was running for governor of a southern state several years ago. The loosing moment in his campaign began when he made a remark about the weather and commented that you just had to endure it "like a woman who was being raped should just lie back and enjoy it." I WILL NOT just sit back and enjoy a movie that is raping my very spirit and then merely rate my rapist. It is time for us movie goers to stop this spiritual promiscuity.

: I...apologized to Jesus for bringing Him there

Well yeah, we've all had bad first dates.

: I WILL NOT just sit back and enjoy a movie that is raping my very spirit

Yes because being raped is pretty much equally as traumatic as watching a film when you have the option of leaving any point.

: It is time for us movie goers to stop this spiritual promiscuity.

Because rape something that only happens to promiscuous people. The only people who are raped are those who want it really.

:blink:

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MattPage wrote:

: Yes because being raped is pretty much equally as traumatic as watching a film when you have the option of leaving any point.

FWIW, I have never been physically raped, but I did have one moviegoing experience that, at the time, I described to close friends as a kind of rape. (See our thread on The Crying Game for more on that.) So I don't necessarily disparage the fact that someone might have had that reaction to a film. But I do question the openness with which this person is saying it to the world at large, so soon after the alleged experience. And I do wish they had applied the analogy to a much more appropriate film.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wait a minute ... you mean these aren't in the public domain by now!? (And where were these estate representatives when Billy Wilder made The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes?)

- - -

No Holmes 2 for Ritchie?

In a recent interview with David Letterman, Robert Downey Jr played up the possibilities of a rather more literal bromance between Holmes and Jude Law’s Watson, pondering aloud whether or not Holmes is a “very butch homosexual”.

But his comments didn't amuse Andrea Plunket, who holds the US copyright to the literary Holmes saga.

“I hope this is just an example of Mr Downey's black sense of humour," she says. "It would be drastic, but I would withdraw permission for more films to be made if they feel that is a theme they wish to bring out in the future.

"I am not hostile to homosexuals, but I am to anyone who is not true to the spirit of the books.”

Total Film, January 4

- - -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDi-MNCN8Qw

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure the first three collections of short stories are, in fact, in public domain; the later ones, perhaps not. Quite a few of them show up at Project Gutenberg, and there doesn't seem to be a copyright in the US on "Adventures" or "Memoirs," or even on "His Last Bow," the final collection. Perhaps the rights to the character itself have been protected, though? I don't know about how the whole copyright thing works.

EDIT: According to Sherlockian.net,

In the United States, the only Sherlock Holmes remaining in copyright is The Case Book, which will enter the public domain between 2016 and 2023. A legal challenge that would have invalidated a 1998 extension to the length of copyright -- putting Sherlock Holmes into the public domain immediately -- was thrown out by the Supreme Court January 15, 2003.

The American copyrights are owned by the Estate of Dame Jean Conan Doyle. The American agent for administering them, and related rights in the Sherlock Holmes character, is Jon Lellenberg (Hazelbaker & Lellenberg, 211 East Delaware Place suite 605, Chicago, Illinois 60611), JonLellenberg@aol.com.

As to Andrea Plunket,

Her claims to rights in the Sherlock Holmes stories have been repeatedly rejected in U.S. federal court decisions (including Plunket v. Doyle, No. 99-11006, Southern District of New York, February 22, 2001; Pannonia Farms Inc. v. ReMax International and Jon Lellenberg, No. 01-1697, District of Columbia, March 21, 2005). She has also filed a claim to the name "Sherlock Holmes" as a United States trademark, and it too has been turned down.

FWIW.

Edited by NBooth
Link to comment
Share on other sites

: So I don't necessarily disparage the fact that someone might have had that reaction to a film.

Well I think there are a number of differences between your usage and his. First, as you mention, it's his sudden instant reaction. Second, your is a decidedly sexual context. There's nothing to suggest that's why he's using it. Third your comments was made privately to friends as a way of expressing your feelings and drawing our certain aspects of them, his was more just hackish overstatement.

Whilst I doubt you would ever knowingly describe your experience as "like being raped" in the presence of someone who literally had been, your usage makes some sense. His is just offensively lazy hyperbole. Perhaps there should be an addition to Godwin's law...

Matt

Edited by MattPage
Link to comment
Share on other sites

MattPage wrote:

: Whilst I doubt you would ever knowingly describe your experience as "like being raped" in the presence of someone who literally had been, your usage makes some sense. His is just offensively lazy hyperbole. Perhaps there should be an addition to Godwin's law...

Yeah, I could be okay with that. It's one thing to hear someone say, e.g., that Lucas and Spielberg "raped our childhoods" with the most recent Indiana Jones movie. But then, to see South Park actually DEPICT Lucas and Spielberg raping Indiana Jones, with Indiana Jones screaming for his life and all the rest of it... well, gah, you realize just how horrifying that metaphor is, and how we really shouldn't be throwing it around so casually. (Whether South Park was engaging in the casual throwing-around, or trying to draw our attention to how horrifying the metaphor is, I leave for the reader to decide. All I know is I couldn't take more than a few seconds of that clip.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw this today and I've gotta admit--I really loved it. RDJ was just passable as Holmes. One or two times he gave a face that made me want to shout "Yes, this is Holmes!" but otherwise, meh. His hair really distracted me--a piddling thing, to be sure, but still.

The real triumph was Jude Law. He nailed the man-of-action aspect of Watson's character. He was intelligent, but clearly not Holmes' equal--it's evident that he learned all his tricks from his friend. And he walked with a limp. I noticed that little point about twenty minutes in and wanted to cheer--I can't recall a Watson that limped before (did the one in "Private Life"? Certainly not this noticeably). Law's chemistry with RDJ's Holmes also shone through; I don't know how he would interact with the classic Holmes, but he certainly draws sparks with this Holmes.

This movie's chock-full with a million little in-jokes that shows the writers' familiarity with Sherlockiana: a patriotic "V.R." on the wall, Watson's gambling addiction (never actually mentioned in the stories, IIRC, but certainly a stalwart part of Sherlockian lore), Holmes' habit of making Watson provide the firepower--even the

experiments on the dog

are firmly rooted in the canon. I was delighted the whole way through the movie by little things like this, and by the bits of dialogue ("I cannot make bricks without mud!") that are culled from the canon.

It's not perfect, of course. The plot is predictable (the big secret of

Lord Blackburn's resurrection

isn't really that hard to deduce, even if you're not Sherlock Holmes) and Irene Adler is weak. In fact, she's my biggest complaint--in "A Scandal in Bohemia" she's a mistress of disguise, a mind equal to Holmes in many ways; here she seems to get all her work done via sex appeal. It's hardly as interesting. Still, of the two big, dumb disposable movies of the season, I think "Holmes" has the edge over "Avatar." Its effects aren't as mind-blowing, but the characters, at least, are interesting. I'll be willing to spring for this movie when it hits DVD--something I couldn't say for "Avatar" at all.

Oh--re: the occult. There's just a small suggestion

at the end that Blackburn was playing with dark powers beyond his ken, and so brought about his own demise

but I would hardly think of that as promoting the occult. Indeed, in a movie this airy,

the suggestion that Blackburn is destroyed by the dark forces he evoked--even if all the legwork, as it where, was his own--and the fact that the heroes do not use a variation on "white magic" to defeat him

is in fact pretty commendable, if you're looking for some sort of "message" on the subject. I'm not convinced that kind of thinking is helpful, but that's just me.

Edited by NBooth
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh--re: the occult. There's just a small suggestion

at the end that Blackburn was playing with dark powers beyond his ken, and so brought about his own demise

but I would hardly think of that as promoting the occult.

If you're referring to the raven that keeps showing up, I have to say I liked that bit of ambiguity.

Not so sure what to make of Holmes' " And on the third day ..." comment at

Blackwood's empty tomb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, that's what I meant. For most of the movie (having read this thread, and so knowing a rather large spoiler) I was really annoyed by the raven. Once I realized that it served a more subtle (but only slightly more subtle) purpose than simply giving atmosphere, I was much more content with it. It does, as you say, add a pleasing layer of ambiguity to the whole affair.

I interpreted the "On the third day" comment as Holmes being a smart-aleck. It's on a par with "The Sign of the Four" where he cries "It is finished!" when faced with a seeming dead end or any number of other misappropriations of Biblical texts in the Sherlockian canon. I'm not sure what other significance we could put on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So... a few weeks have passed and I'm finally writing a review.

Am I correct in remembering that the film comes down on the side of Reason over Mystery? In other words, does Holmes' demonstration that the witchcraft of Lord Blackwood is just a hoax, and easily dispelled by logic, have the larger implication that spells, miracles, and other spirit-world claims are just hooey?

Is this a Reason is the Way, the Truth, and The Life movie?

Or am I making too much of that?

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So... a few weeks have passed and I'm finally writing a review.

Am I correct in remembering that the film comes down on the side of Reason over Mystery? In other words, does Holmes' demonstration that the witchcraft of Lord Blackwood is just a hoax, and easily dispelled by logic, have the larger implication that spells, miracles, and other spirit-world claims are just hooey?

Is this a Reason is the Way, the Truth, and The Life movie?

I don't think so. There's a scene fairly early where Holmes and Watson are talking and Watson talks about a strange experience he had with a man predicting his own death. He says that in some cases, it makes sense to theorize supernatural explanations for phenomena, to which Holmes agrees, but stipulates that it's important to know the facts before theorizing so that you aren't choosing facts to fit your theory, but rather forming theories to fit the facts. If it were the type of movie you were suggesting, I feel like Holmes would have used to moment to say that there was nothing in existence that couldn't be explained by rational, naturalistic causes.

Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So... a few weeks have passed and I'm finally writing a review.

Am I correct in remembering that the film comes down on the side of Reason over Mystery? In other words, does Holmes' demonstration that the witchcraft of Lord Blackwood is just a hoax, and easily dispelled by logic, have the larger implication that spells, miracles, and other spirit-world claims are just hooey?

Is this a Reason is the Way, the Truth, and The Life movie?

Or am I making too much of that?

Don't forget the Raven.

That little detail problematizes the whole reason-mystery dichotomy. (I'm not saying it's a very deep point, but still).

[bTW, the overall tone of the film re: the supernatural certainly falls in line with the perspective of the Sherlockian Canon, at least as interpreted by Stephen Kendrick, but the detail mentioned above is in a slightly different vein than, for instance, Holmes asking in The Hound of the Baskervilles whether the Devil's agents might not be flesh and blood. General idea's the same, though, I think.]

[On a related note, it seems to me that one of the movie's not inconsiderable weaknesses--and remember, this comes from someone who absolutely loved every minute of it--is that Holmes never seems to be very invested one way or the other in the purported supernatural-ness of Blackwood's plot. It's less that Holmes outright rejects the idea of supernatural solution than that he doesn't give it much thought one way or the other. Contrast to his behavior in "The Sussex Vampire" or The Hound of the Baskervilles where his reaction is much more fleshed out.]

Edited by NBooth
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I correct in remembering that the film comes down on the side of Reason over Mystery? In other words, does Holmes' demonstration that the witchcraft of Lord Blackwood is just a hoax, and easily dispelled by logic, have the larger implication that spells, miracles, and other spirit-world claims are just hooey?

Is this a Reason is the Way, the Truth, and The Life movie?

Or am I making too much of that?

If there was one thing this film did get right, it was the spirit of the Holmes stories - including the fact that Holmes and Watson are not athiests. The side that claims this was a witchcraft film are wrong (a friend told me he was dissapointed that Holmes tried to perform a magical spell, I had to tell him to re-watch the movie again). But anyone claiming that reason is held in too high esteem in a Sherlock Holmes movie would be funny to me as well. The whole point of the character is his reasoning logical deduction ability - and yet this is never taken to the point of exclusion of the spiritual.

So perhaps, reason is "the way, the truth, and life" when you are logically deducing the solution to a crime, but Holmes never takes this to the point of atheism.

I'd also say everyone is taking the Raven too seriously. The bad guy is all about appearances. So he has a pet Raven trained to follow him around. If you're a pretend black magic, con-artist hell bent on conquering the world I don't see why you wouldn't have a pet raven.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched a pickup truck pass my house on Saturday that was *engulfed* in a (ooh, I get to say it!) murder of crows. I might have deduced that this was a Satanist. Then I saw breadcrumbs flying from the windows in bursts.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched a pickup truck pass my house on Saturday that was *engulfed* in a (ooh, I get to say it!) murder of crows. I might have deduced that this was a Satanist. Then I saw breadcrumbs flying from the windows in bursts.

Personally, I would have assumed I accidentally woke up in the Birds that morning and looked for a way out of the movie. :)

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd also say everyone is taking the Raven too seriously. The bad guy is all about appearances. So he has a pet Raven trained to follow him around. If you're a pretend black magic, con-artist hell bent on conquering the world I don't see why you wouldn't have a pet raven.

Hmm. Except no-one save the audience (us) actually sees the raven. The people the con-artist is trying to con don't. Holmes doesn't. It seems to exist on another level besides the main events of the plot (there's one scene where it's standing in the street in the rain, which strikes me as pretty unnatural). We might even think that its only purpose for existing would seem to be to put us in the mood for supernatural goings-on. And in the scene where

Blackwood falls to his death

the raven is highlighted by the director in a very specific way that draws a link between it and what's going on onscreen--and, notably, right after Holmes says that

Blackwood had better hope it's all hooey, because he did everything perfectly--so that "someone" is due a soul.

It's certainly not a serious point (then again, the movie's not serious) but I would argue that it's not taking it too seriously to say that Richie employs it to hint that the villain touched something below the surface of "normal" experience.

[Edit to add: it's not a big detail at all--it's a little ironic touch right at the end, and certainly shouldn't be pressed to make the movie say too much. But I would argue that it's there, all the same.]

Edited by NBooth
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I finally saw this and lo! I am a fan. It sent me straight back to my Short stories collection (complete with my Dad's mispelt name inside the front cover) and I was surprised at how well they tallied with the film. Adler, yes, different. There's no way she can ever be the same character as in the books now, but otherwise the only complaint thus far is that RDJ is too short.

I also appreciated the fact that it felt like Holmes was his own character and not just some 19th century-ised version of Bourne or Bond or Neo or someone else, and, as has been said above, the various nods to the original stories that lie somewhere in the future.

Can't wait for another, and so I'm pleased this is still running over here. It's even been restored to the biggest theatre here, with Avatar and Up in the Air getting duly bumped down.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Another one who enjoyed the simple fun of the first film, I have growing hopes that this is going to be one of those franchises where the sequels only get better. The sequel already has the potential for a much more potent villain (especially if Brad Pitt, whose tremendous acting ability only seems to be growing exponentially over the last couple years, gets the role). Now Downey is talking a little bit about the next story ...

"I think we'll be abroad ... A bit of Paris, a bit of Switzerland by the end, if I'm not mistaken."

Any Sherlock reader knows what that means.

Edited by Persiflage
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
  • 5 weeks later...

I'm an hour in. I will probably finish it, because House is the only show I watch on TV. A month or two ago, you may have caught me watching an occasional Cubs game. These days that team is killing me again ("Why Can't I Quit You," I say for the 40th year in a row), and the TV isn't usually on unless there's a DVD involved. Anyway, wherever I picked up the theory that House and Wilson are standing in for and representing Holmes and Watson, it is dead-on.

House and Holmes are both detectives, House is obviously limited to being a detective in the medical field, trying to figure out various diseases like a math problem. Both are passionate about hard facts and logic, but occasional flourishes of mystery throw them a bit out of their own understanding. Both have lived in a 221B, both have shared apartments with their partner (Watson/Wilson), and both continually mess in their partner's love life, as if worried like a child that their attention for him might go away when he really finds love. I haven't gotten far enough into the movie yet to know if this is rendered, but apparently both House and Holmes are drug addicts.

There is a hard, noticeable theme of science vs. religion that runs through both House and Holmes. I know House much better (I've never read a Holmes book, and I can't remember any previous version of Holmes -- Holmes seems to rest in my consciousness somehow), but I could almost call the TV show a struggle to out-logic, sometimes even out-prove the existence of God, on a week-to-week basis. And there are moments along the way when House is simply left to wonder why he can't use his great logic and reasoning to understand these things that are beyond him. I take it Holmes is the same in this area?

The TV show's grappling with post-modernity in terms of logic that adds up that isn't always right -- because it depends on the interpretation of the logic -- is perfectly suited to a Gen Y pomo crowd. I wonder where Holmes is in all that. "Pre-modernity?"

As far as the movie goes, I never knew Holmes knew anything about fighting or Kung-Fu chops, and certainly never saw him as a character that gets into a boxing ring. I might be wrong about that, but it's nothing close to an understanding I had about the character.

I honestly don't like it when they use these high edits and sped up (Matrix) shots that are 1. Overdone, fifteen years after The MAtrix, and 2. Completely out of step with the day and age the film is supposed to depict. Isn't this supposed to be the mid-1800s? The way the film is shot and edited takes me right out of that setting, whether it is an adventure film or not.

Oh, one final thing: An hour into the film and I don't think the story has actually developed. I couldn't tell you what the film is about yet, but I might be able to describe the resurrected bad guy and the setting. I do, however, sense a chemistry between Holmes and Watson that is quite a great deal of fun to watch, but not as much fun as the built chemistry over the years between House and Wilson.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Michael! Very cool.

Also, a question for Matt or any of the Brits out there:

A few days ago I was watching the Téchiné The Witnesses, and it really bugged me in the end when an American character showed up and they spoked in English with really bad French accents. It was one of the worst cases of this I've seen. I said to myself, "Why couldn't they just get an American actor for this part?" So does it bug you when you hear the characters played by Downey Jr. and Jude Law trying to lay on the English accents? Or have you gotten so used to this from American movies over the years that it really doesn't bother you at all?

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: the ending. Seriously one of the most awful films ever. Period. Ugh. Minus stars, not even zero. MINUS.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...