Entertainment Industry and other works

by Ellen Gillingham

Sherlock Holmes


In “The Mazarin Stone,” Arthur Conan Doyle creates a thought provoking mystery case in a short story about the fictionally famous Sherlock Holmes.  The story is written in third person, but most of Doyle’s stories are in first person.  This unique literary aspect illuminates the character of Holmes because it seems that he is portrayed objectively.  Additionally, the story shows the wittiness of Holmes as he peruses a stolen gem, while his life is in danger.  His attitude illuminates a theme that being observant along with sly can mislead and trick others because they can be caught in a web of lies.


Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes focuses on Sherlock Holmes as he solves a world-scale mystery.  The film makes use of filmic aspects such as slow motion to emphasize Sherlock Holmes’s attention to detail.  This allows the audience to observe his thought process as Holmes faces the villain.  However, this adds an action hero characteristic to Holmes.  With this added physical action, the film focuses on a theme of using all of one’s gifts.  Holmes and Watson seem to be equally skilled with fighting with fists, guns, and swards.  The characters seem to be multi-dimensional and well rounded.


Guy Ritchie used the Sherlock Holmes character that has been featured repeatedly in the written, film, and television versions with added entertaining aspects.  In Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes, the main character is represented as a young, intelligent, and resourceful detective.  In other versions, he has been portrayed as old or a smoker.  A strong point that Richie made in adapting the film was the language and humor.  Doyle’s dialogue and wit was an inspiration for Sherlock Holmes’s character.  On the other hand, Richie’s challenged lie in entertaining the modern audience.  Slow motion, plentiful violence, and romantic relationships are added as an action and entertainment value.  The added elements of the film made the characters well-rounded and plot entertaining.  However, the Holmes character is not as different as he seems because Conan Doyle’s original conception has been morphed many times by other adaptions.



This youtube video is an interview for A Game of Shadows and Sherlock Holmes that discusses actors’ roles and influences for Sherlock Holmes.


This interview with Guy Ritchie discusses his filmmaking experience along with script writing.


This article focuses on cocaine’s effects on Sherlock Holmes and Robert Downey, Jr.

This article, “Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes: The Cocaine Connection,” is important in understanding why the use of cocaine is a critical point of focus for critics when analyzing the adaption.  It also links the actor to the character through their shared use of cocaine to bring about intellectual highs.  It also shows that different perspectives were portrayed in Conan Doyle’s works concerning addiction and drug use.  Overall, the article says that Downey Jr. connects well with Holmes because of this common addiction.  Although the cocaine use is not physical part of the plot, the fact that the actor is familiar with how cocaine affects him suggests that this character trait is not completely left out.


Based on your reading of “The Mazarin Stone,” is Robert Downey Jr. a faithful, or radically innovative, Holmes?

Robert Downey Jr. is not radically innovative, but also not completely faithful to my reading of “The Mazarin Stone” instead, he is faithful to the characteristics of the Sherlock Holmes franchise.  It is true Downey Jr. was faithful to the character of Holmes, but most of his characteristics are a result of the Sherlock Holmes franchise and escape the bonds of Conan Doyle’s original concept.  This may be a result of Downey Jr. reading many Sherlock Holmes stories and watching The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in order to learn more about the character.  The way Downey Jr. performs in Sherlock Holmes and other films show that he is suited for mysterious roles.  His performance in Iron Man displays that he excels at large speaking roles where he can be himself.  However, Doyle’s original is a man who is compassionate and has a strong sense of justice.   For instance, in “The Mazarin Stone” when Holmes has a clear case against both villains, he lays it out upon the table and considers the thieves’ motives logically to find the stone.  In the film, Holmes’s character is more of an action hero, as seen in the slow motion fighting scene and the fact that the film’s mystery is on a global scale.  Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes made a dynamic main character from the Sherlock Holmes franchise.  Still, he encompassed elements from Doyle’s “The Mazarin Stone,” but also incorporated other depictions of Holmes.


3 comments on “Sherlock Holmes

  1. dholmes89
    June 7, 2012

    This is a bit of a random point, but it came to my mind reading your post: with films such as this, Iron Man, and Tropic Thunder, Downey has utilized his image (shaped by years of drug abuse and hedonistic L.A. misbehavior), coupled with a certain biting wit, to become an A-list star.

    Consider this alongside the rise of Johnny Depp, who, with his Keith Richards clothes and intense, “artistic” image, seemed an anomaly of a movie star next to figures such as Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson in the ’90s, but has become a major force with the Pirates films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Alice in Wonderland.

    I find these two actors’ recent meteoric rises fascinating. There seems to be, among general audiences, a rejection of standard-issue matinee-idol heroes (see: the tepid critical response to the fourth Indiana Jones, the enormous failure of John Carter) and, in turn, a surprising preference for stranger, more sinister versions of heroism.

    Iron Man, the superhero who openly admits his secret identity to the media and is prone to self-absorption and vanity. Captain Jack Sparrow, an alcoholic thief and fugitive whose sexuality is more than a tad ambiguous. In Ritchie’s Holmes movies and also the BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch, there is a tense question of whether the antisocial detective might be just as wild and dangerous as the criminals he chases. Perhaps these characters, who prove noble and true beneath questionable or even menacing exteriors, are inspirational in a time plagued by economic downturns and a general international paranoia.

  2. vhardy21114
    June 11, 2012

    I agree that Downey created a more dynamic and action character from the original Holmes, but I would disagree that the character of Holmes can be compared to that of Iron Man or any of the other action movies that Downey has been featured in. I still see Holmes as a very timid and anxious man who has a bout of physical capability. But that aspect of Holmes does not take over his character.

  3. lordbyrne
    June 12, 2012

    Good analysis of the book, the film, and the adaptation. Interesting online research links. I noticed you posted a picture of the Cumberbatch Sherlock, the most recent Holmes iteration. I really recommend that version. Also, after reading your comments about Downey Jr. and drugs, I look forward to your comments on Downey’s performance in Scanner Darkly later in the course. 10/10. JB.

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This entry was posted on June 6, 2012 by in Adaptation, Film and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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