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Sherlok Kholms i doktor Vatson: Znakomstvo

Posted by martinteller on January 6, 2013

I am what you would probably call a casual Sherlock Holmes fan.  I read all the stories and simply loved them… but I must also confess that was some 15 years ago and I haven’t returned to them yet.  I’ve seen all the Rathbone/Bruce films and enjoyed those as well (to a degree… Bruce’s buffoonish Watson bugs me) but not enough for a second viewing.  The only version I’ve taken the time to consume is the new Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman update, which I quite like too.  But — you guessed it — I probably wouldn’t bother to watch them again.

I had heard that this Soviet series of TV movies starring Vasili Livanov and Vitali Solomin were the best screen adaptations of the Sherlock stories.  Being a fan — albeit a casual one — I was intrigued.  This first film, told in two parts, conflates the tales of “A Study in Scarlet” and “The Speckled Band”.  And it’s a perfectly fine rendition.  The best element for me is Solomin’s Watson, who is presented as occasionally out of his depth but far from the halfwit caricature that Nigel Bruce gave us.  Livanov’s Holmes is enjoyable as well, a solid performance but one that doesn’t do anything particularly interesting with the role.

And that’s how I feel about this film (or films, really, the two halves are quite distinct).  It’s faithful to the spirit of the material, with all the right elements there.  The chemistry between Holmes and Watson, the suspense, the delights of Holmes’s deductive powers.  It’s executed well, with convincing period work, more than competent cinematography, and an engaging enough sense of pacing.  It’s got some nice humor.  It’s a fun time.  But it’s not bringing much new to the table.  The most interesting aspect (and this might be in the original Doyle as well, I can’t recall) is how suspicious Watson is of Holmes at first, setting up a bit of an antagonistic relationship between them before they get comfy with each other.

Other than that, however, it’s pretty standard.  Part of the problem may be that I’m not especially fond of “The Speckled Band” as a mystery.  So after the promising beginning, my interest sagged for a while before the second part began.  It was good enough to make me curious about some of the other films in the series (all highly-rated on IMDb by an enthusiastic fanbase) but I’m in no rush.  Rating: Very Good (82)


3 Responses to “Sherlok Kholms i doktor Vatson: Znakomstvo”

  1. […] : Serlok Kholms (review): Russian TV-series starring Vasili Livanov as Holmes and Vitali Solomin as […]

  2. Nice review.

    Vasily Livanov and Benedict Cumberbatch are my favorite actors to portray Sherlock Holmes.

    I think you will the Russian adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Final Problem. Both Livanov and Solomin are at their best in these 2 episodes.


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