I think we can now say that we have reached a point in cinematic history when sequels have reached higher quality. I have not seen an advanced screening of the new Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, but recent years have shown that reboots and sequels are being taken seriously – The Dark Knight, Spider-man, The Bourne trilogy, Star Trek, Live Free or Die hard, etc. are proof that actors, producers, and directors are out to make entertaining and quality films.
Sherlock itself is a reboot and has taken on many different forms throughout the years, but Guy Richie’s version has proved to be a success. Not only a monetary success (if it wasn’t there wouldn’t be a sequel) but an artistic success on various levels. The cinematography brings an intriguing tone and feel to the reboot. Two highly-talented actors (Downey, Jr. and Law) are capable of bringing two iconic characters to the screen with a freshness that makes audiences appreciate them among various generations. The entertainment level is high, but it does not sacrifice story or character development to accomplish that.
All of that being said, I think there is a deeper level of appreciation which focuses on a characteristic of Dr. Holmes that causes this to resonate among audiences. And I believe it’s the fact that Sherlock Holmes is one smart cookie.
Intelligence is something that has always intrigued audiences since the dawn of time. All detective work calls for intelligence, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of Holmes (no matter which actor) certainly kept that as a commonality in each portrayal. But it is this that draws audiences to detective work in general, and Sherlock Holmes in particular, the idea of intelligence.
Guy Richie did an amazingly creative job of highlighting this aspect of Holmes’ character in the film. He did so by giving us a window into the detectives’ mind during moments of physical combat. The audience was allowed to hear the thoughts of Holmes as he anticipated the physical assaults of his opponents. Richie not only brought a nuanced aspect of Holmes’ intelligence to the screen, but also emphasized the stewardship of the mind as of primary value in the midst of physical confrontation.
One early example of wisdom is King Solomon. His initial request for wisdom over riches was profound – profound enough that he received both – but his first recorded judgment with the mothers bickering over a child proved him to be wise beyond his years. There is also the testimony of the Queen of Sheba [1 Kings 10] who affirmed his intellect in comparison to the rest of the rulers.
However, whether it be King Solomon or Sherlock Holmes, the mind, being such an aspect of interest, comes from the fact that we are created in the image of an intelligent Being. The shorter catechism gives us a concise definition of this intelligent Being stating, God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. God’s supreme wisdom is of supreme importance when considering him.
For starters, it is his wisdom that is the foundation of all creation. It was his idea to create, his words that caused creation, and his plan that redeems his creation, which all find their origin in the mind of God. Contemplating the mind of God would have no end, and we certainly won’t scratch the surface in this blog post. Suffice it to say, we are created in the image of an infinitely intelligent God, and that image, though marred by sin, still causes an infatuation with the mind.
To me, this is what makes the character of Sherlock Holmes so timeless. At Doyle’s creation of this character, it was the mind of detective Sherlock Holmes that drew audiences to him. But it is the mind of God, impressed on men, that causes Doyle, Richie, Holmes, and us, to stand in awe of the original Creator of creativity.