Mr. Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Sherlock Holmes, Without a Clue, The Great Mouse Detective, Young Sherlock Holmes, Murder by Decree, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
I spend a lot of time thinking about the world of cinema, reading reviews, absorbing audience reactions, and attempting to understand the future of my favorite art form. In my opinion, the world of cinema currently finds itself divided into two camps. On one side, you will find a group of movie lovers who crave original stories and new properties based on a never-before-seen story. On the other side, there is a group of fans fully devoted to familiar subjects and worlds that stretch from one movie to the next. I stand in an odd purgatory between the two groups. I crave fresh stories, unfamiliar voices, and cinematic experiences I have never had before in a movie theater. Yet, there is also a nostalgic version of myself who explodes with joy when a comic book trailer or some world from my youth is released.
Standing in this place made me wonder, for all the space dominated by the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, have there been other characters who have consumed so many hours of our collective time? Instantly, my mind landed on James Bond and the adventures of 007. Knowing that I have spent a significant amount of time with that character, I encouraged myself to dig deeper into a character I do not know so well.
A quick and crude Google search revealed that “Sherlock Holmes is the most prolific character in the history of cinema.” While some websites disagree on how “prolific” this character is, I counted at least 50 films. Baffled because I have only seen a few of the films on the list, I spent time with the then films listed above. My mission was simple. I wanted to seek a through-line connecting all these adaptations together to better understand the public’s fascination with this character.
Before tracing the similarities between each film, I think it is necessary to highlight a point to understand about each film I chose.
Mr. Holmes attempts to understand an aging Sherlock Holmes as time betrays his greatest weapon.