Only the numb survive. Its a new Sherlock Holmes for the X-Box generation.. Holmes Alone for the Holidays and with Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role, it could be said that between the yule and mistletoe, viewers may be asked to compose with a bad samaritan, but a samaritan nonetheless.The egg nog is on our face. The new version, seeks to reformulate the duo into a more active and physical tandem, and less cerebral and reflective; apparently more Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid….. ”Sherlock Holmes does not sport a deerstalker, take drugs or say “Elementary, my dear Watson” but does martial arts and is a bare knuckle fighter who occasionally wears sunglasses.” So, we are not getting a Sherlock Holmes, more a Steven Seagal in period wear..” Irene Adler is not quite the Victorian lady of the Canon … since she is an accomplished kickboxer and thief. That said, I’m rather tired of the Victorian ladies who are always fainting or screaming and letting themselves get tied to railroad tracks while the men have all the fun. No ladies scream in this movie.”
The mystery of Holmes was always found in the historical adventures transpiring in Victorian England. It was an era where Conan Doyle’s world bound up their sensuality in stiff garments of propriety and prudery. But as Doyle knew, many Victorians kept copious diaries and many forgot to destroy their secret journals. From these documents scholars discovered that the Victorians can shock, and not all what has come to light fits the standard image. There was a little more bounce in the bosom than is generally accepted. The conjunction of Victorians with Freud’s psychoanalysis; fearful repression of sex was followed, as might be expected, by life destroying neuroses. The paradoxes of Sherlock Holmes’s world run very deep. At first glance it seems humorless, opaque rigid, and puritanical. Many facets of Victorian society chill the mind. Notably, its maniac preoccupation with respectability and social convention; its dedication to dogmatic religion and remorseless morality, and a ferocious attitude toward immorality in the young and the weak. Add to this a nauseous sentimentality about the innocence of women; its lunatic preoccupation with modesty and its rage against drink. Wherever one looked; in metropolitan or provincial society, among the rich, the prospering, or the poor, there is an obsession with sin, combined with a Jehovah like inflation of the figure of the Father. Don’t trust appearances. It was always this regard under Holme’s magnifying glass,the anti-matter under the social crusts that was the attraction of Conan Doyle. The peeling away of accepted convention to reveal the crimes of yesteryear being similar to our own.
At the same time, what cannot be denied is the Victorian’s moral arrogance, his worship of money, and is tasteless osentation which became matters of cynicism worthy of Voltaire. The journals of John Addington Symonds gave insight into the extent of practicing homosexuality among the intellectual elite of Queen Victoria’s England and the anonymous autobiography ”My Secret Life”, a litany of promiscuity, and a range and depth of sexuality was revealed which few had credited the age. However, the problem is more complex than merely crowning Samuel Butler, William Morris and Oscar Wilde as the true symbols of the age.
An age of attraction and repulsion.That Prime Minister William Gladstone was in constant attendance at the salon of Skittles, the most notorious courtesan of the 1860′s, or his very close association with the American Lilly Langtry, the ”Jersey Lily”, who became the Prince of Whales’s mistress. Yet, Gladstone was an ardent Christian, committed to the view that every hour of every day should be in His service. Nevertheless, a powerful sexual nature was at work: through these quaint methods of sublimation, in no way hypocritical, Gladstone was able to tame his lust and live his life of dedicated respectability. This type of semi-double-life, a respectable Dr. Jekyll and a sexy Mr. Hyde, enabled many a Victorian to cope with his puritanical world.
Although Lewis Carroll’s ”Alice in Wonderland” became a classic children’s book of middle-class England, its symbolism is in many ways cruel and violently sexual. But the book was considered pure and delightful, a work fit for the innocents, and it brought Lewis Carroll great fame. Lewis was a pillar of stuffy Oxford respectable society, yet he was constantly falling in love with small girls, aged seven to eleven, and chasing them ardently. With Lewis, piety and photography lived demurely together. The conflict of attitudes was typical Victorian schizophrenia.
The allure of Conan Doyle’s writing was this exploration of the dark side of late nineteenth century life, its poverty and its orgiastic opportunities. Only by a life of pious frugality could many hope to rise above the filth, the squalor, and the depravity of Victorian England. A society of vivid and startling contrasts, simultaneously teetering between vice and virtue. One can only understand Holme’s Victorian age and the urgency of their morality, if one grasps that they were a minority in a boisterous sea of dire poverty and rampant lust.
Contextually, Conan Doyle,s Sherlock operates at the latter end of Victoria,s reign, just before Edward VII took the throne ( 1901 ), and his subsequent pursuit of the high life that his subjects could vicariously enjoy, and in sharp contrast to the chilling presence and innate dignity of Queen Victoria. He projected an image of glamour, sophistication, and riches to the people forever denied such pleasures. Holmes navigates an English aristocracy living on a curious tightrope of self deception where the behavior of the rich was an outrageous hypocrisy and stood out garishly against a background of poverty, low wages, and widespread malnutrition. In the literary arts, George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells
begun to criticize their world directly, or others like Yeats, retreated into the Gaelic twilight, rejecting the harsh realities of industrial England just as completely. Holmes operates in this world of foreboding, heavy with the sense of inevitable decay of empire and greatness. The Boer War divided English society, in the way that Vietnam split Americans.
”Downey Jnr said his received pronunciation was just fine and that he would be drawing on his experiences filming Chaplin, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, to create a believably British character. His Holmes, he said, would focus less on the repressed English side of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, and more on his status as “a bohemian” and “a patriot”. He went on to admit the character was “just such a weirdo.” He added: “as a matter of fact Mrs Downey said that if you read the description of the guy – quirky and nuts – it could be a description of me on some days.’ ”
This would be clearly, a Holmes, as representative of a new tide in an old world which was cracking. A Holmes as part of a new, mass consumer society, with its tensions and conflicts seeping through an uncheckable stream. This is not the Holmes who was not ill at ease within the stately sweep of traditional England, a world in which he understood the old society’s values of status and deference. Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes off, before he had to make decisions between fading rituals and social and political protest. The late Victorian era was at war with itself, creating tensions and strain within the growing and socially powerful classes. The genius of Sherlock Holmes was his sensitivity and intelligence, and the implied horror he felt by the double standards of both life and thought in his era. Holmes was essentially, an early Edwardian, a man neither derived from the traditional past, nor typical of the future. The real Holmes had real problems,serious flaws, but he also had real class and as such his enjoyment of his era is what gives Holmes such enduring radiance.