Sherlock Holmes Adaptations

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The process of adjusting or transitioning from one medium to another is known as adapting. Adaptation of written arts literature to visual arts has been more popular over the years. Adaptation has been around for a long time, and it refers to a practice that can be used in anything from the classics to contemporary literature. Screenwriters produce multimedia adaptations of literary content such as novels, music, and plays. It creates a visual representation of the behavior outlined in a novel. As a consequence, a reader may have a sensory experience close to that of a film. However, adaptations have been chastised for departing from the original published texts. As such, adaptations of printed literature to visual arts must conform to the originality and authenticity of the source material. Thus, it is a screenwriter's duty to choose well the events in the book or play to come up with excellent visual experiences. Adaptations have been used successfully to deliver blockbusting movies and series. BBC's adaptations of Sherlock Holmes have found a place in the modern age from the Victorian era. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the character of a detective from the Victorian era (19th Century England). BBC adapted the book to create a thrilling and contemporary series, Sherlock Holmes. It places the hero created by Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, in another age and time. The series has the same effect as the original book thou, with minor alterations established. Thus, Benedict Cumberbatch brilliantly reiterates Sherlock Holmes' character from Doyle, but it remains an adaptation of the imaginative literature found in the modern 21st century. Adaptation of Sherlock Holmes puts the characters and events in the modern day British world. Thus, alterations are made from the original facts to fit into the targeted generation.
Adaptations of literary text need utmost care to maintain originality. In most cases, the modifications fail to preserve the authenticity of the characters. It leads to distortion of information and criticism from readers of the literary material. Therefore, producers have to exercise care in adapting their characters from texts. It avoids staying away from the original version thus, maintaining quality. BBC creators of Sherlock produced an excellent film by maintaining the originality of the characters; Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty who are from the original text. Although Holmes is placed in the modern day London, the role maintains the traits of the original hero created by Doyle. Holmes is a detective who works hard to devise methods of investigation. In Doyle's stories, Holmes is a philosophical character and lives for his profession. The same qualities are captured in the television series Sherlock although it modernizes the style. In BBC's version, Holmes is brought about as a genius and revolutionized into a professional detective. Holmes is seen using modern day technology such as a smartphone. He is also idealized as some genius, giving him supernatural abilities. In the series, Holmes has a power that no ordinary man can possess (Bran 125). In the modern text, Holmes is philosophical and uses this to assist him in finding solutions to mysteries. However, in the current day series, Holmes uses fascinating wit to solve problems or cases. In contrast to Doyle's character, Holmes here uses the devices present in his age to maneuver through his investigations. BBC's adaptation of Holmes is useful because it attracts the modern generation but strays from the original character created by Sir Arthur Doyle.
Holmes is the main character in the original text and series, but other aspects too are adopted from the book. Alternations are also evident in some of the other characters such as Doctor Watson and Moriarity. Doctor Watson is Holmes friend and confident. Watson acts as Holmes' conscious voice in Doyle's creation. Watson is present in the cases Holmes investigates and acts as the catalyst to the conclusions made after an investigation. In the version of the series Sherlock, Watson's character is still that of a confidant. However, just as Holmes, he is placed in the modern day world. In contrast to Doyle's creation of Watson, the BBC series depicts him as a sort of comic addition to the show. The original text described Watson as an important character in Holmes' life, but the show portrays him as an additional character. Professor Moriarity is also portrayed differently from how Doyle created the character. Moriarity just as Holmes is seen using modern technology in the series for his benefit (Bran 130). He is seen unlocking vaults to get access to CCTV'S of security departments to help Holmes with an investigation. Although Moriarty is seen using such advanced technology it does not stray from the original text where he shows portrayed as a mastermind. Thus, it is disputable on whether the role of technology in the series makes the characters unoriginal. As such, it can easily get argued that the use of technology by the characters is not a diversion from the original text but a strategy to relate the series with the present generation. It is unrealistic to use the Victorian era to make a film because it would not capture the attention of viewers. Consequently, placing the characters in the modern world changes their traits but in reality, they originate from Doyle's creation.
The atmosphere of the original work is of significance when adapting it in visual arts. The events of the written work need to be correspondent to those of the film. Modern adaptations of Sherlock Holmes fail to undoubtedly bring out the occurring events of the original short stories as written by Doyle. It is the same in the series created by BBC. While the characters remain the same, the atmosphere of the original text has gets tweaked. In Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, in particular, The adventure of the Final Problem, visual alterations are evident in the adaptation captured in Sherlock series. The Adventure of the Final Problem, tells of the final days encountered by Holmes during the visit to the Reichenbach Falls. The story has no case for the detective to solve because it shows his last days is the final book Doyle wrote. The story unfolds to Holmes visiting his good friend (Watson), in an agitated and injured state. It is through the visit that Holmes tells his friend of his intentions to retire but has to fulfill something first. Holmes had found out that Professor Moriarty is the criminal genius behind the heart of a vast criminal gang. Consequently, Holmes wants to capture the professor before he retires and this brings them to their journey (Doyle 212). On the way, they make it to Reichenbach Falls where things start falling apart. Watson becomes deceived into believing that an English woman is ailing and need his help. It is at this particular point that Holmes meets his death when he enters into a confrontation with Moriarty at the fall.
The effects of visual alterations of The Adventure of the Final Problem are evident in BBC's Sherlock season 2, episode 3: The Reichenbach Fall. It is the final episode in season two of the series ending with the thrilling confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty. In the series, Moriarty commits the crime of breaking into the Tower of London, and it is up to Holmes to solve the case. Doyle's story The Final Problem is an adoption in the episode but in the modern day (Bran 139). As such, the elements of the story are the same because Holmes and Moriarty face each other off while Watson gets coaxed with a report of an ailing woman in need. Holmes solves a case that leads to the discovery of the stolen painting titled Reichenbach Falls. It is contradicting because in the original text Reichenbach is a place, not a picture. It is the place where the events of Holmes last days happen, but the adaptation takes place in a setting in London. Holmes is aware of his fate and makes a phone call to Watson expressing his fears. At this particular scene, we identify the effect of visual arts in changing the original text. In the original short story, Holmes writes a letter to Watson after leading him to a coax, but in the adaptation, it is in the form of a phone call.
The return of Sherlock Holmes; The Adventure of the Empty House adapted in season 3, episode 1 of the British TV series Sherlock. The story starts in London during spring with exciting news of the death of Ronal Adair who has gets murdered. The story is told by Watson because Holmes is now dead. Watson intends to solve the crime but is angry because he doesn't possess the crime-solving qualities like his friend. However, he goes on ahead with his quest that brings him to the murder of Adair, a wealthy man. Adair is found dead in his house which is considered hard to get inside. Therefore, it is mysterious because there is no evidence of a break-in and the killer never bothered to make away with the pile of money lying on the floor. In his search for clues, Watson discovers that Holmes is not dead. Holmes had faked his death because after throwing Moriarty from the cliff he knew his gang members would come after him (Doyle 276). Watson understands his friend and returns to being his sidekick in solving crimes. As usual, Holmes explains the murder case, and his face is back to the public once again.
In the season three of Sherlock, episode 1: The Empty Hearse is an adaptation of The Adventure of the Empty House. In the event, we see John Watson moving on with his life after the horrifying incident of The Reichenbach Fall. The episode starts with an unknown identity strapped to a chair undergoing interrogation. It is later revealed that the prisoner is Sherlock. Meanwhile, Watson is contemplating on proposing to his girlfriend now that he has come to terms with the death of his friend. When Watson is in the process of proposing to his girlfriend, Sherlock appears. John is not so pleased with his friend for lying and displays a lot of hostility towards Sherlock. Unlike in the original story, the return of Sherlock turns into a comedy rather than an astonishing event. Later on, Sherlock asks Molly to join him in his investigation of the "Skeleton Mystery." It is a completely different scene from the original text where Watson goes back to being Holmes sidekick in solving crimes (Bran 136). However, there is evidence of similar concepts from the original book in the episode. For example, in the book, Holmes returns as a bookseller while in the episode he returns as a waiter. Consequently, in Doyle's original story, Holmes mentions a fictional martial art called "baritsu" and in the episode, Sherlock mentions "Japanese wrestling" when he describes how he fought with Moriarty. It is vivid that the film changed some of the concepts from the book to fit into the modern way of life, but the events come from the original text.
In conclusion, it is evident that there are differences in originals stories and adaptations in film. Visual texts help readers create a picture of the events they read in books. It creates a sort of real world of characters found in writing. However, adaptations can be different from the original texts. The effects of visual alterations are seen in the original versions of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Adventure of the Final Problem" and "The Adventure of The Empty House." The two originals are adoptions in the British series Sherlock Season 2, episode 3: The Reichenbach Fall, and Season 3, episode 1: The Empty Hearse respectively. Although the characters and events in the two incidents adoption from the original texts, some modifications made are wrong. It is for the sole purpose of accommodating changes in society. The adaptations have placed the characters and the concepts of the book in the modern 21st century. It targets the current or younger generation where technology is of utmost importance.

Works cited Doyle, Arthur Conan. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Wordsworth Editions, 1992.
Nicol, Bran. "Sherlock Holmes Version 2.0: Adapting Doyle in the twenty-first century." Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2013. 124-139.


December 15, 2021


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