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The 20th century begins. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson left the house No. 221b on Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes went to Sussex and started beekeeping. Dr. Watson got married and returned to medical practice. Mrs Hudson also left Baker Street, but ordered to create a Sherlock Holmes museum in the living room. Inspector Lestrade retired. However, in the new century there were new, much more dangerous criminals implicated in politics and international relations. Europe was on the verge of a major war. Written by
This is the final entry in the rightly-acclaimed Lenfilm series of Russian-language Sherlock Holmes television films, and it knows it. Everything about the atmosphere of this production is valedictory, and the finality of the production means that there are plenty of opportunities for thematic reflection on the meaning of what a character like Sherlock Holes does, how its meaning changes with with the changes in society over time, and the wonderfully subtle relationship between the Livanov Holmes and the Solomin Watson of this series.
The two leads are as wonderful as ever in their roles, and are given some delightful scenes -- from their reunion in Sussex at the start, so their occupation of a 221-B Baker Street that was set to become a museum dedicated to them, to a bittersweet reflection by the fire and a touching speech from Watson at the end that are not necessarily reflected anywhere in the works of Conan Doyle but which nonetheless ring absolutely true.
The plot draws more on "The Bruce-Partington Plans" more, than any other in the canon, though it mixes many stories and invents enough that it is probably more pastiche than adaptation. This source does mean that we get the presence of Mycroft Holmes, though, extremely well-played by Boris Klyuev and the subject of some charming comedy and the constantly buzzing telephones and telegraphs in his office both emphasize his importance and make it impossible to carry on a conversation.
It's a spy story -- and this works thematically, highlighting the technology, heartlessness, and involvement of big, cruel players in crime that helps to define the twentieth century and that goes beyond the milieu that is familiar for Holmes and Watson. Unfortunately, the plot itself is a weaker point of the film, as, digging deeper in may stories for material and involving itself in so many intrigues, it becomes a bit muddied.
It's a testament to the series and the production, though, that even still, watching it inspires such strong delight, and nostalgic affection for these most agreeable incarnations of Holmes and Watson as they end their journey across our screens.
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