I am, as far as I know, the only person to have ever made a Sherlock Holmes film in 3D.
This is no mean feat, as the great detective has appeared in over 211 films since 1900, being portrayed by more than 75 actors and is, according to the Guinness Book of World Records the most portrayed movie character ever.
My 3D film of Sherlock Holmes is a 4D attraction film aimed at visitor attractions such as theme parks and museums. With several high profile Sherlock Holmes projects in the media at the moment I thought it might be interesting to look at what informed our film and compare it to other screen versions of the character.
I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I was in my early teens when I heard the BBC’s radio versions of Conan Doyle’s original stories starring Clive Merrison and Michael Williams. I subsequently read all the original stories and have been fascinated ever since by the character; and his relationship with his friend and chronicler Doctor John H. Watson. I even know the “H” stands for Hamish.
Currently in the multiplexes you can see Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows, the second film to star Robert Downey Jr. in the title role. The first installment in 2009 was a surprise hit; and I myself was very pleasantly surprised with it. I went in expecting it to be a bastardised Hollywood rehash exploiting the character for brand power only and using it as a springing board to deliver a standard-issue action/adventure flick. However after about 10 minutes I realized that this really is Sherlock Holmes – the setting is right, there are references to trivia from the stories and most important of all – the relationship between Holmes and Watson is lovingly rendered. In this version they’re portrayed as a kind of bickering married couple, constantly at each other’s throats but bound together by their mutual dependency on the other’s qualities. Having seen the second installment last night I can report it tops its predecessor on almost all levels.
Last year we also saw Sherlock, a BBC series cunningly updating the character to the present day. Quite why no one had done this before defeats me, because it was quite simply a brilliant idea: transposing the familiar scenario to the modern world; and once again Steven Moffatt (of Dr. Who infamy) made sure this really was Sherlock Holmes. All the details were spot on and the casting (Martin Freeman especially) is perfect. Personally I found the construction of the mysteries a little too outlandish to really work well – it seemed to devalue Holmes’ powers of deduction that he could apply them successfully to cases that seem quite illogical and the resolution of which didn’t make a lot of sense; to me at least.
In our 3D Sherlock Holmes however we decided that it wasn’t really worth trying to reinvent the character within a ten minute film; not least of all since these other recent projects had done that so well. Instead we decided to deliver the clichéd, standard-issue Holmes we remember from the Basil Rathbone movies of the 1940s with his pipe, deerstalker and magnifying glass: but to try and revel in these clichés and make them fun and entertaining. I saw the props as being part of Holmes identity; tokens he would need to activate his powers of deduction and solve the mystery. At the core of the story however we put the relationship with Doctor Watson; on whom Holmes relies for the common sense and human touch he cannot perceive despite his incredible skills of reasoning. Holmes needs Watson and Watson needs Holmes and around this central truth all versions of Sherlock Holmes revolve, and it is this that has kept audiences fascinated by the character for over 100 years and will ensure he is popular even 100 years from now.
You can watch the trailer for Sherlock Holmes 4D here: www.sherlockholmes4D.com
Now, don’t get me started on who owns the rights to Sherlock Holmes however. That’s a mystery even the great detective himself couldn’t get to the bottom of.