Reminiscences of John Watson, M.D. at the Talkies
While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes requires no introduction, Guy Ritchie’s Holmes is, as expected, a tad bit unlike the literary genius Sherlock Holmes. And so is Dr. John H Watson.
But how different?
To understand this, let’s presume a conversation between the literary characters Holmes and Watson using their inimitable science of deduction to analyze their own portrayal and other aspects in director Guy Ritchie’s movie.
Watson returns after viewing Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes and discusses it with Holmes, who obviously has not seen the movie and is unlikely to do so.
Holmes: Whatever have you been doing with yourself, Watson? Quite unlike you to visit the talkies to learn about one’s own self.
Watson: How the deuce did you know that? And precisely Mr. Ritchie’s movie for that matter?
H: You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles. You had left the papers at the very page where the advertisement for the movie appeared. The rest I figured based on the time you left and returned to the residence. And of course, I sensed the smell and stain of fruit tart on your fingers.
W: Anyway, the story…
H: Yes Watson, I have already come to the conclusion that Mr. Ritchie’s story is not directly based on any of your memoirs or for that matter our creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s four novels and fifty-six short stories — the Canon as they call it.
W: By George! How did you know that? Have you been visiting the talkies lately?
H: No, I have not. How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth?
W: Yes. But, how do you explain it?
H: Our times were different. The current generation is too impatient to sit through a story whose conclusion they are well aware of. Hence, it is impossible for Mr. Ritchie to take any story from the Canon. This process is completely logical. It seems otherwise only to those who skip steps: either of data or reason. To those who master the method, things are elementary, my dear Watson!
W: None the less, Mr. Lionel Wigram deserves credit for writing a story from scratch.
H: No more, or rather no less, credit than the writer of this review deserves for easily conjuring a situation between you and I. The real credit, dear Watson, goes to our creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Is it not obvious?
W: It is rather obvious to me now and I gladly agree with you on that count, Holmes. And so would the modern day Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts — the Baker Street Irregulars.
H: The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes. Let us see, what else did you observe?
W: A magnificent performance from Mr. Robert Downey Jr., indeed. Although his character is in many ways similar, he is in other aspects dissimilar to you, Holmes. You are undoubtedly one of the finest boxers but you look upon aimless bodily exertion as a waste of energy. It is quite the contrary with Mr. Downey who bestirs himself at the slightest provocation employing the science of deduction more with the Japanese martial art of Baritsu than to solve a crime.
H: Considering the fact that over the years our characters and mannerisms have been so unrecognizably tampered with by many an author and film-maker alike, I am in the least bit surprised to see myself transform from a literary detective to a superhero. None the less curious about how your character is depicted in the movie?
W: Aha! I thought so. Mr. Jude Law does complete justice to my role and does little to tarnish my original character. Except for the overtly depicted camaraderie between our good selves which sometimes gives one the impression of, if I may say, us sharing a brotherly-romance. And of course, how could I forget — I get to kick you.
H: So does Irene, I am sure, figuratively and not literally. And without an iota of doubt Mary walks in to your life to wipe out any evidence of a brewing and false so-called bromance between you and I.
W: Absolutely! And together we kick the backside of our bête noire: Lord Blackwood. Never heard of him before. Overall, a more entertaining than intriguing piece of cinema for the new breed of Sherlock Holmes aficionados. Mr. Ritchie leaves no stone unturned in deploying his usual tactics of slow-motion action sequences and music-video style of cinema he popularized with his previous movies Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels…
H: I will have to interrupt you there, Watson! I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones. What the deuce is it to me as to how many and what kind of movies Mr. Ritchie has made in the past?
W: But surely would you not want to deduce the box office fate of this movie?
H: That, I already have but dare not reveal it. You may remember the old saying, ‘There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from an audience.’
This review is written based on the style, words, and content from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s popular work of fiction Sherlock Holmes. Also with inputs from a dear friend, Vivek (Mashtor!).