The Steampunk in Sherlock Holmes Film

Dec
27
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I see it fairly well now…

“You know” Says Warner Brothers Executive 1 to Warner Brothers Executive 2 “the kids are really into this ‘Steampunk’ thing these days.”

“Steampunk?” Says WBE 2.

“Yeah, Steampunk, it’s kind of like re-writing history, as if, say, Abraham Lincoln had a Gatling gun for a left arm, or if Sherlock Holmes knew more about physics and chemistry than the top scientists of his time.”

“So a Sherlock Holmes movie then?”

“Already in post.”

With that stated, you should go see it. That is not entirely said because my family owns a majority share in most Hollywood picture houses, but also because the new Sherlock Holmes movie is a wonderfully entertaining and visually beautiful ride of a film.

As a pure spectator, Sherlock Holmes delights on a number of levels.  First and foremost, I found myself drawn into the movie’s initial frames due to nothing more than the soundtrack.  This leads into a feverish opening that leaves you wondering why the hell Sherlock is running madly through the streets on London.  Inter-cut this with a series of, what you assume are, police carriages hot on his heels.  Follow this with Sherlock breaking into what seems to be a random gate, plotting how to take out what you assume is some “evil henchman” and stumbling upon some kind of occultist ritual group that is very obviously about to kill a young woman.  THEN… well, you can watch it for yourself.

Should the movie rest of the laurels of the action and panache of sequences as the openings (and do believe me, there are plenty of them), it would still be worth a watch at least, perhaps, once a decade.  But it is the actors, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, playing the venerated Holmes and Watson duo, that keep you genuinely caring if the characters happen to be sliced in two by a meat-market saw blade or pummeled by a Francophone-ic giant.  Their banter IS more than a bit standard Hollywood buddy movie, but the very fact that the two actors bring such a chemistry to the institution that is Holmes & Watson, causes you to shrug and simply say “Why fix that which is not broken?”

So how, you are asking, is this any more “steampunk” than ANY old Sherlock Holmes anything?  I’m glad you asked.

First and foremost, and I am no scholar of Sherlock Holmes, this film “sexy-ups” the entire world of Sherlock Holmes.  Do remember, the books are not period literature, they were, for the most part, written during the time they take place.  And though it is very arguable (and I myself would agree) that Sherlock Holmes IS s bit drug addled and mad… there isn’t so much anything I’ve ever heard no read that would lead me to believe he is ever as unkempt as Downey Jr. plays him to be.  Duly, they’ve really set up a world in which more than just Holmes and Watson (should, of course, sequels be made), exist in flesh in blood.  Where-as, in the literature, the axillary characters are spoken of but rarely seen outside of the one or two stories they appear in.

Lastly, the London this takes place in is RIFE with massive, strange, industrial machinery.  For the love of the gods, they are building the London Bridge during the movie… and the director (Guy Richie in case any of you wanted to be not very surprised) is very bent on ensuring you know this… roughly bent on ensuring you know this about five or six times.  This is a Holmesian world filled with bizarre contraptions that rely on Hollywood’s tenuous grasp of physics.  Electro-magnetic radio control and pneumatic poison jets are joyfully used.

My mad ramblings aside.  See it!  You’ll enjoy it!  I did, very much so.  Doubly, I would suggest also supporting it because, let us Steampunk-types be honest with ourselves, Hollywood will do essentially anything they think the masses will like.  And if the masses like Sherlock “Steampunk” Holmes, and Hollywood puts it together in not a half bad manner, I say, why not?

Why not, indeed!

Best,
-The Lord Baron

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Topics: Movies, Steampunk

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