Jan. 7, 2013
Solution is a Sherlock Holmes film unlike any other Sherlock Holmes movie
I’ve seen. This is more about him as a character, and so is intriguing in a
different way. But don’t worry, there are still puzzles for him to solve.
After the opening credits, a title card reads, “In 1891 Sherlock Holmes was missing and
presumed dead for three years. This is the true story of that disappearance.
Only the facts have been made up.” That is funny, but this film is not a
parody of the genre. It takes Sherlock Holmes seriously, and treats the subject
with respect, while having humorous elements and also taking a fresh look at
Watson (Robert Duvall) goes to visit Holmes (Nicol
Williamson), who seems to be in a state, on cocaine, and ranting about Professor
Moriarty. Then later Watson finds a man named Moriarty waiting for him. Moriarty
(Laurence Olivier) claims that Sherlock Holmes is following him, hounding him. We
also learn that Moriarty was tutor to both Sherlock and his brother when they
Watson decides to get Holmes to Vienna to cure him of his
cocaine addiction, and figures the only way to lure him there is to get Moriarty
to leave him a trail. And so a good
portion of this film deals with Sherlock Holmes facing and fighting his drug
addiction, with the help of Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin).
In fact, it’s nearly an hour in before Vanessa Redgrave
shows up. And that’s when the mystery begins. Her character had been a cocaine
addict and a patient of Freud’s. An attempted suicide attempt lands her in the
hospital, and Freud is called. He has Holmes come along, thinking it will prove
instructive for him. But of course Holmes begins noting that she’d been bound.
And soon he is on the case.
Despite a couple of silly scenes (the attack by the horses, and the sword
fight), I love this film.
Mainly that is due to the incredible cast: Alan Arkin (who is always
excellent), Nicol Williamson, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Duvall, Laurence
Olivier, Jeremy Kemp, and Charles Gray.
Most of these people are Shakespearean actors. Obviously
Laurence Olivier is known for his Shakespeare work. He won an Oscar for his
portrayal of Hamlet in the 1948 film, and also did film versions of As You Like It, Henry V, Richard III, Othello, The Merchant Of Venice and King Lear. Nicol Williamson performed
Hamlet on Broadway, and also starred in a film version of Hamlet, as well as the BBC production of Macbeth. Vanessa Redgrave has appeared in film and television versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It and Coriolanus. Charles Gray, who plays
Sherlock’s brother in this film, starred in BBC productions of Richard II, Julius Caesar, Troilus And Cressida and The Comedy Of Errors. Jeremy Kemp starred in BBC productions of Henry VIII and The Winter’s Tale, and played Cornwall in Olivier's King Lear.
This film is not only full of great Shakespearean actors,
but also has several references to Shakespeare. On the trail of Moriarty,
suddenly Holmes and Watson are stopped by a gate being closed on them. Sherlock
says, “Like Gloucester at the edge of the
cliff, eh Watson?” That line is a reference to a scene in King Lear. Then when Holmes meets Freud,
he rattles off all he has gleaned about the doctor, including “You enjoy Shakespeare.” Later Sherlock
wakes from a nightmare about a snake. As he recounts an old case to Freud,
Freud asks, “And you and Dr. Watson, you
scotched the snake?” That is a reference to a line from Macbeth. And then at the end of the
film, Freud quotes a line of Prospero’s famous speech from The Tempest: “We are such
stuff as dreams are made on.”
This DVD has one bonus feature, titled “When Sherlock Met
Sigmund.” This is an eighteen-minute interview with writer Nicholas Meyer, who talks about the project. He started reading Sherlock Holmes stories when he was
ten years old, and his father was a shrink. He wrote screenplays, but then
wrote the novel The Seven-Per-Cent
Solution when the Writers Guild was on strike. Interestingly, when he wrote
the screenplay he wanted to change elements from the novel, including the
tennis scene. He also talks about how he became interested in William Shakespeare
through the work of Laurence Olivier.
Solution was directed by Herbert Ross, who also directed Play It Again, Sam, The Goodbye Girl and Footloose. It was
written by Nicholas Meyer, who directed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which also has a lot of Shakespeare references).
Solution is scheduled to be released on January 22, 2013 through Shout!