Sherlock Holmes

Analysis of Book: The Mazarin Stone, Arthur Conan Doyle

Doyle uses the wit and charm of Holmes combined with his intellect to create an adventure story, a suspense that uncovers the issues of identity and espionage and deceit. Holmes has many enemies, as made clear in the Mazarin Stone, but at the same time loyal companions and people who are afraid of him- he is quite well known. What Doyle explores is the concept of lying and deceit, and when it is used. Holmes uses it to uncover things for the purposes of uncovering or to take objects such as the diamond away from the antagonists, in this case the Count and the boxer. However, Count Sylvius and the boxer use lying in order to get away with taking the stone, and lie for their own benefit. It can then be inferred that they lie for business purposes whereas Homles lies in order to uncover truth and find justice.

Analysis of movie:

In the film Sherlock Holmes directed by Guy Ritchie, Holmes utilizes both his intellect and physical ability to uncover the truth. Though he is removed from society, at least compared to Watson, he is entangled within a love scheme with Irene, who is both his lover and intellectual match. The film explores Holme’s relationship with people, specifically Watson and Irene, and how he interacts with those outside of his close relatinoships. He is seen as witty and charming, and able to engage an entire audience yet in the very beginning he shows a disdain for the public world as Watson draws the curtains. What Ricthie then is describing is Holme’s natural gift for assimilation in to the world, his high intellect, and his affinity to solving mysteries with his knowledge of the world despite his social awkwardness and withdrawal from society.

Analysis of adaptation

Guy Ritchie’s adaptation mostly differs from Doyle’s original in that it is catered to an older audience that is more familiar with the themes of violence and romance and magic. Unlike the Holmes in Doyle’s edition, Ritchie’s Holmes is much more vocal, physical, and in love- ie, he is more integrated with society than Doyle perhaps intended. The amount of violence Ritchie included showed Holme’s ability to calculate attacks in the span of seconds, but it also separated the film from the more childlike stories that Doyle had probably written for. The romance not only deviated from the original, in which Holmes had no lady love, but also captured the attnetion of the older audience (teenagers and older) with its devastated love, Romeo and juliet, mr and mrs. smith type love story. The magic aspect also played a similar role and required the audience to be able to understand the demystification of the magic used, which a child probably would not be analytically able to do.

Online research

1.) http://collider.com/director-guy-ritchie-exclusive-interview-sherlock-holmes/12726/

Weintraub interviews Ritchie about the elements important to the new adaptation and interpretation of Doyle’s stories for an older audience, including Robert Downey Junior specifically cast as Holmes for his personality and the newly included fight scenes not original to the text.

2.http://www.bartitsu.org/index.php/2009/12/its-brilliant-perfect-lets-change-it-an-interview-with-sherlock-holmes-fight-choreographer-richard-ryan/ In this interview with Richard Ryan, the fight choreographer, Tony Wolf uncovers the behind the scenes and strategy behind the Victorian fighting styles in the movie and how the fighting evolved based on the relationship between Holmes and Watson. Due to the closeness of the characters, Ryan wanted to make it so that they fed off of each other, aside from the Punch Bowl scene and the ending, which were to show Holmes’ intellect and to end the movie with Holmes defeating teh main antagonist, respectively. The amount of practice and research that went in to developing the style of fighting paid off and created the amalgamation of modern day, contemporary fighting (boxing, etc) with the Victorian influence, with ths use of canes, foot work and such. The fight scenes were not only entertainment, but an insight in to the collaboration of Holmes and Watson and a look in to Holmes’ mind.

3.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAIHw55aeWM

In this interview of Dwney and Law, the interviewer (who makes some questionable assumptions) delves in to the relationship Holmes and Watson and how each actor decided to interpret their characters and work together to create the perfect chemistry.

Critical analysis

We see twice in the film Holmes’s clinical application of violence. Which does it show better: Holmes’s brilliant intellect, or his masculine physicality? Or does it show both equally well?

Holmes’ ability to analyze step by step in the time span of a few seconds while letting go of emotional responses (when he is fighting the boxer in the Punch Bowl scene, he mutters to himself not to respond on an emotional level) speaks more to his intellect than his masculine physicality. Although he did win the fights both times he talked out the movements, they required less physical strength and more speed and knowledge of the human body and its breaking points. The display of his masculine physicality came later in the scenes where he and Watson fought together without the insight in to Holmes’ mind.

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Tristram Shandy: A Cock and a Bull 2006

Analysis of Novel:

The novel, told from the point of view of Tristram Shandy, describes the events mostly of his uncle Toby and his father, interjecting here and there bits of his life and others. In this book, Sterne brings readers through the rather comical tale of accidents that propel actions in a very anachronistic fashion, reordering tales and skipping time frames. By doing so, and by Tristram’s acknowledgement of the skipping of time frames, Sterne brings forth the question of the reality of time and chronology, and memory, and more importantly, story telling, the order in which our lives are told.

Analysis of Movie:

In the production of A Cock and a Bull, the use of metastories are significant to emphasize the anachronistic and messy style of Tristram’s story as originally written by Sterne. The film also allows audiences to connect further with Steve and see a disconnect between Steve and the character Tristram and the father, calling in to question the “believability” of the characters he has played, and asking the viewers why it is that fiction can be so believable even when it is obviously not true. By contrasting the life of Steve with the life of Tristram on film, one is more able to understand the story of Tristram by comparisons, such as the poignant moment when Steve holds Rachel’s baby in his hand but very rarely touches his own.

Analysis of adaptation:

The adaptation itself was cleverly done, clearly pinpointing the removal of the author from his own story. Most elements, though, were missing, but still mentioned. A story as disorganized and scattered, both in architecture and content, was told brilliantly through this adaptation by the use of a production crew  acting as if they were planning the movie that the audience in the theater sees. The emphasis is placed on the retelling of a life that is successfully executed only with the help of many others compiling different elements of just one person’s life. It is the look in to the myriad pieces of a life and how the rest of the world identifies with it, and that the basis of identity is the identifier’s history.

Online research:

1.) http://movies.about.com/od/interviewswithactors/a/tristram011506.htm

In a personal interview with Coogan, Coogan reveals his thoughts behind difficulties in creating a film out of a novel that was considered unfilmable.

2.) http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/films/films.php?id=10061

This article speaks of the comical effect that the movie has which is what makes the movie so enjoyable, despite the actions happening.

3.) http://www.themonthly.com.au/michael-winterbottom-s-tristram-shandy-cock-bull-story-every-which-way-forward-owen-richardson-249

Richardson emphasizes the simliarities between Steve and Tristram and how the device of meta-fiction works in books and on screen.

Elaboration on 1.)

In Steve Coogan’s interview, he delves in to the difficulties faced while filming the creative yet complicated script of Winterbottom’s Cock and a Bull. He mentions the film within the film and having to play the parts of more than one character, and how confusing it became, having to discern which film crew was the real one and which character he had to become. He discusses also having to overcome the challenge of thinking the project is too hard, and how he and Winterbottom treasure and rather create difficulties to stump.

Critical analysis:

The intern Jenny is a budding auteur (or film professor!) who cites renowned auteurs Bresson and Fassbinder. Is the viewer meant to admire her or find her pretentious? What evidence from the film leads you to your conclusion?

Jenny’s knack for more or less rambling on about Fassbinder and Bresson and others seems to annoy the rest of the characters. In the scene in which everyone is sitting and Jenny describes in length Bresson and such, she leaves promptly because she realizes the tension of the rest of the people who are not responding to her. Inthe scene where she kisses Steve, she describes Fassbinder and Steve does not really have a response to her. This might be Winterbototm attempting to poke fun at those who are stuck in films, that their reality is rooted in a meta-reality of sorts.

Alice in Wonderland

1. Analysis of the book

Although Green has said that there is no hidden meaning behind the book and that it was written for children, to entertain, there is meaning to be drawn. The most obvious is that of the grasp of an identity, and finding oneself both when physically changed, such as Alice’s shrinking and growing, and also when placed in new environments that toss around the meaning of reality Masked beneath the playful rhymes and ridiculous twists of words is Alice’s naive quest, in which she does not intentionally come to the conclusion to search for herself but is thrown and forced in to development. As she journeys through wonderland, the fantastical creatures that she meets do not amaze her so much since she still holds the child’s ability to shape her reality- those creatures might very well be reality to her, but to the reader offer an escape in to fantasy.

2. Analysis of the film

Burton’s film utilizes the gothic, which contrasts greatly from the illustrations and tone of Carroll’s book, to portray growth and skepticism that people go through. Alice’s maturation from Carroll’s original character, who was rather naive and scatterbrained and pure, comes back to Underland with caution and an inability to accept the current world as reality. The maturation is described not only through the change of height, but also through the medium of the costumes. Each costume Alice dawned was given to her and put on without a choice, from her dress to the surprise engagement party to the white gown, displaying the change she goes through. As the white knight Alice plays in the end, she becomes similar to what shewas as a little girl, when she puts on the white gown, white being symbolic of purity, and believes the reality of the Wonderland world. Burto nspins off the little girl that drew in child audiences and turned her in to a more powerful, sensible young adult, who finds courage in becoming a child yet again.

3. Analysis of the adaptation

Carroll’s style in the original Alice in Wonderland book was a very child-like adventure, in which adventure was the pure point of the story. However, in order to appeal to the larger mass and for Burton’s twist of the moral of the story to be considered and understood, the adaptation of Alice in Wonderland 2010 took a turn for the gothic and lead viewers in to a darker, more skeptical world than the bright and colorful world that little Alice in Carroll had ventured in to. The teaparty scene was very freely adapted, perhaps to show the wear and tear that the madness and opression had on the citizens of Wonderland without Alice, the knight in shining armor. This knight character that Alice transforms in to would not have been predicted if the script stuck to Carroll’s original. The hysteria and violence added in the movie, the friendship between the characters, especially the Cat for risking himself to help the Hatter, was put in the film version for viewers to identify with the film.

4. Online research on the film

1.) http://www.philosophynow.org/issues/90/Alice_in_Wonderland

In this article Heather Rivera analogizes the Red and White queen to the parental figures of Alice’s life and discusses her quest to rid her life of the Red queen, who represents tyranny and control.

2.) http://archf.blogspot.com/2010/10/feminism-tim-burtons-alice-in.html

This post, by “archfiend,” criticizes the feminist point of view, declaring that Alice was turned in to a man at the end with her muscle definition and outer appearance, which is not a good message to send to females and defeats the purpose of a feminist, women empowering movie.

3.) http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/mar/06/tim-burton-alice-wonderland-guardian

This article elucidates the dark mind of Burton, probably represented by Alice in his movie, which is illustrated by the astounding yet darker graphics used.

Elaboration on 1.)

In Heather Rivera’s article, Rivera takes on a very feminist slant, one that empowers women to break out of the norm. However, her message reached across the border of feminism and applied to all, emphasizing that controll, tyranny, and societal constraints were associated with the Red Queen and Alice’s mother, whereas the freedom, praise, and encouragement lied with the White queen and her father, who passed. By ending the movie with Alice’s complete rejection of what was the norm back then, for women to marry, to dress a certain way, and to marry a lord, and also going off on an economic, business venture, Alice breaks this mold and leaves the viewers with an inspirational message.

5. Critical Analysis Paragraph.

Like Burton’s Willy Wonka, the main character in Alice in Wonderland has “daddy issues.” What are these issues and do they add depth to the story, or do they serve as an unwanted distraction (as in Willy Wonka)?

Alice’s loss of her father, who was the opposite of her mother and WIlly Wonka’s father in Burton’s adaptation, provided her the love and harmony that is generally associated with the mother. The issues that arise from not having a father is precisely that- she is lacking the lightheartedness and care from her father, such as the scene in which she says to her mother, “Father would have laughed” when she made the codfish remark. What the missing father does is create for ALice the opportunity and almost an excuse to fulfill the role of the man, since her father played the role of the mother. He was her inspiration to cross the society borders restraining each gender, in Burton’s film. While in Underland (or what alice calls wonderland) she meets the mad Hatter and many other characters who could very likely be figments of her imagination inspired by her father, and reflective of herself. The mad hatter seems to be what Alice would have been if she were not constrained in reality, which would have been allowed by her father. The loss of her father becomes the opportunity for her to identify herself and become comfortable with breaking away from the societal norms.

(also, I wanted to say that I do not think that the daddy issue in WIlly wonka was an annoying distraction, I actulaly thought it was pertinent to the plot! or at least Willy Wonka’s development. Though Burton did turn a childhood story that might not have had a point except to not be like the other four children with charlie, the loss of a dad for willy wonka really showed how important a father’s position in a child’s life is. His entire pursuit to success and his scatterbrained moments were related to his father, who had rejected him but mostly showed him no love. His inspiration for making so much candy, and his memory of his father saying “candy is stupid, candy has no point,” seemed like a deepseeded impetus for proving him wrong)