Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

Šerlok Holms i doktor Vatson; crime, Russia/ Estonia, 1979; D: Igor Maslennikov, S: Vasily Livanov, Vitaly Solomin, Rina Zelyonaya, Maria Solomina

London, 19th century. Dr. Watson moves in into Baker Street, to live with the eccentric Sherlock Holmes. At first puzzled by his strange disguising and experiments in the laboratory, Watson eventually finds out that Holmes is a detective and has a remarkable eye for trifles and small details that enable him to solve cases. Their first case involves Ellen Stoner, whose twin sister mysteriously died of "heart failure" whereas her stepfather has the motive to eliminate them so that he could inherit all of their money from their deceased mother. Holmes and Watson spend the night in her bedroom and save her when the stepfather wanted to throw a poisonous snake into her room. In another case, Mormon Drebber was found poisoned in an abandoned mansion, and his assistant Stangerson is soon killed, too. It turns out Drebber took the girlfriend of a man as his fourth wife, sparking jealousy.

This Russian two-part TV mini-series is among one of the most exotic adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's novels about the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes: watching the protagonists talking Russian and walking through an Estonian city substituting as London is a strange experience at first, yet once when the viewers get engaged into the story, such a 'dislocation' is quickly moved to the background. The first part, "The Acquaintance", starts off as rather lax 'necessary introduction', especially with a few strange details (eye in the glass in Holmes' laboratory), yet it starts to exalt itself the moment the two protagonists start investigating their first case involving Ellen Stoner, with a minor highlight being the proportionally well picked location of the isolated mansion and the eerie mood while waiting in her bedroom at night, waiting when and how the assassination attempt might happen. The 2nd part, "Bloody Inscription", is all crime and, despite a number of styleless moments, also manages to ignite interest, even when some of Holmes' deductions are slightly far fetched at times. Vasily Livanov is great in the leading role and gives the character a range of peculiarity, as if he is more of an outsider than a charming hero.


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