Weekly Forum: #30

JHWS “Gwen” read a review of Mr. Holmes in The New Yorker (July 20 issue). The film is reviewed by Richard Brody. The writer made two statements that Gwen wishes to discuss – the first one will be this week’s discussion and the second one will be next week’s.

Since this discusses the movie Mr. Holmes, I’ll but this under a Read More link for those of you who do not wish stumble upon any spoilers.

He notes that in the film Holmes tells himself “I must have done something wrong.” Then he goes on to write: ‘The movie makes a big deal of this, but Sherlockians will hardly be surprised, since, on the page, wrongness and regret flickered around his exploits from the start. There were many occasions on which he arrived too late to prevent an unfortunate death.’

First, I appreciate the use of the term Sherlockians in the mainstream press rather than just by Sherlockians to one another. However, I think ‘many occasions’ is a bit of an overstatement. I can only think of two, without doing research: FIVE and DANC.

Was Holmes as wrong / regretful as implied here?

5 Replies to “Weekly Forum: #30”

  1. How about YELL? Holmes must have been greatly embarrassed to ask Watson to whisper “Norbury” in his ear when Holmes seemed too sure of himself. He more or less messed up MISS as well, getting caught in his tracking and only finding out what really happened through the courtesy of the doctor.
    True, neither of those caused a death, but they were failures of a sort.

    Watson himself tells his readers that there were unsolved cases. We don’t know whether or not Holmes’s failures in those caused tragedies for others.

  2. One might also think of the ending of VALL and the relief in HOUN when Holmes realized it was Seldon and not Sir Henry that died. The occational escaped criminal might have grated on Holmes as in ENGR, FIVE and GREE, although in the last two the criminals got their comeuppance.

  3. Thank you both for your thoughtful comments. I’ve come to realize that I have some difficulty “remembering” the full story lines of the adventures not filmed by Granada. Hmm..and I’ve read the full canon through twice. [Honesty note: I’ve skipped the non-Holmes parts of STUD and VALL on re-reading.] I’ve found Holmes’s failures to be a necessary part of the story telling–makes his humaness more evident. Although I’ve often thought critics are too harsh about FIVE and DANC for many reasons that I won’t bore you with here. I do still think the critic’s note that his failures resulted in death on ‘many occasions’ to be a bit exaggerated.

    1. I think you’re right as well “There were many occasions on which he arrived too late to prevent an unfortunate death” is an exaggeration, at least where the Canon is concerned and you are correct also that Holmes was all-too-human and less the unerring hero of adaptations–and personal memory.

  4. Within the context of the movie (I have not read the book on which it is based), the point is not that Holmes failed to prevent a death, but that this time it penetrated his armor of logic and had an emotional effect upon him. He realized that, if he had been more of a human being and less of a thinking machine, he probably would have saved a life, and it unseated him enough (philosphically, not mentally) that he retired from detecting.

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