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Sherlock Holmes (2009 Film Analysis)

Updated: Jan 15




We know from the stories in the children’s books that Sherlock Holmes was an English detective that almost always got to the bottom of things. Most of the stories revealed what the antagonist’s plans where at the end similar to the “Scooby Doo” television show. Most mysteries are structured like this but this particular adaptation of Sherlock Holmes was impressive compared to the classic Holmes. One of the main reasons I feel that this adaptation was great was because it was fit for an audience of 2012. The unfamiliar action and martial arts this new Sherlock Holmes had traits of was used to give the film an exciting impact.


This adaptation of the book does not replicate every detail. The reason for this is because filmmakers cannot place every line from the book and translate it on the screen. It will take up a lot of time. The attention span of the average American is short, hence the fast cuts and the added martial-arts to Sherlock Holmes. If it was a French film or Italian film, this film would have probably been more slow paced with more static shots, less fighting conflicts and more emotional conflicts.




The editor had used the technique of slow motion and ramp-ups at high frame rates to further emphasize the action. It was used to make a boring man an interesting man so to speak. The “Sherlock Holmes” we were use to before the film came out was a serious and clever but without the martial arts and the LA fitness membership. Flash cuts were used in the “Mini climax” points in the film during action sequences. The reason why this was use was because the editor wanted the scene to present itself with an energy that gave a “short breath” or jarring/immediate experience. For instance, the fight scene with Sherlock Holmes in an underground ring composed of a couple flash cuts that displays some of the background extra’s facial expression.


The overall theme or look of the film had a late 1800’s style to it. The set designer had given this look because it made the Sherlock Holmes presents more believable. It gave the story some character. This theme had a lot more detail and dirt. Things weren't “perfect”. That imperfection had given the film the impression of realism. During the fight scene we clearly notice a shot of a woman that Sherlock Holmes has a liking to. She and her bright red clothing in the pale looking environment was used to emphasize her importance and femininity with in all the masculinity around her. In film and theater the color red signifies importance, danger, promiscuity and many more. It’s an attention grabber.





The color of the film had a nice crushed blacks and a desaturated look that emphasized it’s seriousness an realism. At times there would be some nicely saturated parts due to the it’s need in emphasis on a subject or character like the woman although the saturation levels don’t appear to shift too drastically.




Many symbols like the pyramid and the eye were used to give meaning to a group of characters. The pyramid and the eye was used to signify the dark. It was used for the reason that most people nowadays know that the Illuminati was a cult in Egypt that kept secrets from the church. The cult in the film that Blackwood was in had that symbol because they were holding secrets from the public. The Baphomet symbol was used in the same the same scene to further show darkness and the magnitude of mischief . Symbols don’t alway have to be a signs like the cross or a buddha statue. Sherlock Holmes's hair is a symbol. It takes on many meanings to his personality. The reason why I think his hair isn’t always combed back is because the costume designer wants his hair signifi a high level of intelligence, obsession with mystery and craziness. His hair in many ways give strong clues of what Sherlock Holmes is feeling.


Dialogue used was that of a modern/old English but with an English accent. That stood out when Sherlock Holmes was planning and evaluating a situation or person. He spoke with speed, confidence and certainty. This style of dialogue was used to show Sherlock Holmes’s fast and accurate thinking process. Blackwood would spoke with content as if he had no worries. He was very condescending and belittling. The reason why this style of dialogue was used for Blackwood was to show his mischievous esents.


Music score was on point with the character's action. There was a stringed instrument at the beginning of the film that the English would use in classical music. It was a plucking sound that was the motif of the film. Film score usually designed to manipulate the emotions of an audience and this film did just that. This film would use more of it’s major notes like C, G and A for its happy scenes. For the mischievous scenes, the music would use it’s minor notes like F, F# and E Minor root notes and long strings. The fight scene uses an Irish song to give the audience the sense of cleverness, horsing around and good adult entertainment. The sound effects used in this film are deep, subby and swooshy. Without the sound effects the impacts made by the subjects would have not have the same emotional impact it is with the effects on. When a swing is thrown or a jab is blocked the “swooshes” and “thuds” give the action a nice exaggerated presents in audio.


Cirtien shots and lenses were used for the fight scene. If I am correct they used the 35mm before they begin throwing hands. Once the “thought sequence” begins the lens changes to a 50mm prime to get close with detail and without getting in the way of the action. The fight scene has a strong sense of depth. A short to medium focal length was use to draw our attention to the subjects and and blot out the background. Tight shots were used to give the characters a more threatening appearance. The closer the camera is to the subjects the more it may feel like you will get hit your self.

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