The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson - The Hound of The Baskervilles.

Written by Matteo Sedazzari
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the adventures of sherlock holmes and dr watson the hound of the baskervilles zani 1.j

The archetypal encounter between Holmes and the curse of the Baskervilles is perhaps the best known of the consulting detective's adventure and most adapted for film, television, novel and radio. In brief, the story centres around Holmes and his ever trusty assistant, Watson, who together investigate the curse of Baskerville, a hound from hell seeking revenge on any member of the Baskerville family, and their task is to protect the newly adopted country squire Sir Henry Baskerville (just arrived from the USA). All set in the beautiful backdrop of Dartmoor, it is a classic story of murder, deception, red herrings, folklore and suspense, scattered with a host of suspects resulting in a climatic ending where the villain is unmasked and Baker Street's finest faces the evil hound.

With such a strong story for the world's most famous fictional detective, it's easy to understand why this engrossing tale from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle continues to enter the public consciousness – even Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse has donned Holmes's iconic deer stalker to investigate these wrong doings in its 1965 comic adaption.

In 1979, the Russian director, Igor Maslennikov, embarked on an ambitious project to bring authentic screen adaptationsof Holmes to Russia and the world five years prior to Granada TV bringing Holmes back to the TV screens of the UK, with the legendary Jeremy Brett playing the famous sleuth for ten years. To many, that is the best ever screening of Holmes, yet that is another subject altogether... who is the best Holmes?

Maslennikov's adaptation of The Hound of The Baskervilles (1981) is the third instalment of his TV series, starring Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes and Vitaly Solomin as Dr Watson, whilst keeping close to the original story in terms of plot and timescale. Maslennikov paints a bleak picture, with settings and character, filming at St Petersburg's (London) and Tallinn, Estonia (Dartmoor). The locations, thanks to the DOP, are desolate and create a distance between the viewer and the film. This does work, as it reminds us that the story is about death, and there is nothing warm about this subject. In terms of the central characters, there is no affection between Holmes and Watson, just a professional relationship, and Livanov's interpretation of Holmes makes him cold, remote and highly arrogant, which bizarrely makes Holmes engaging and intriguing whilst Watson is strong minded, and far from a sidekick. Dr Mortimer (Evgeniy Steblov), at the start of the film telling Holmes about the curse, is usually sinister, adding more to the paranoia settings created by Maslennikov, where an air of mystery shows that everyone has secrets to hide.

However, the film is not all doom and gloom, as Maslennikov gives the supporting characters more depth, and, at times, brings a great deal of humour with it. Mrs Hudson is engaging, whilst Sir Henry Baskerville, in this adaptation is from Canada (Nikita Mikhalkov) and is supercilious, which is certainly different, as the character of Baskerville is usually that of a matinee hero. Yet here, Baskerville is more like the loud uncle that you want to avoid at a wedding, and there is a clever sub plot, which entails Baskerville developing a serious drink problem as he goes stir crazy residing in his new home of Baskerville. Furthermore, the usual humble and happy-to-oblige servants, the Barrymores (Aleksandr Adabashyan and Svetlana Kryuchkova) are more outspoken and stand up to their new master, and Barrymore himself keeps the drink under lock and key as Baskerville begs for him to provide him with alcohol. Maybe symbolic of the proletariat overturning a dictatorship ?

If you are a fan of Holmes, I would recommend this version of Hound of The Baskervilles as it is an intelligent and deep adaptation – Maslennikov has clearly studied the concept of Holmes and certainly knows how to deliver a great film of perhaps Holmes's most famous ever case.

© - Words Matteo Sedazzari/ ZANI Media

Available here from Mr Bongo

Read 6158 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 16:26
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Matteo Sedazzari

Matteo Sedazzari

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