Sherlock Holmes
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Sherlock Holmes can be found here.

London Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his assistant Dr John Watson (Jude Law) are called into service by Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) when Lord Henry Blackwood (Mark Strong), who was recently hanged for practicing the black arts and murdering five women, has seemingly risen from the dead. They learn that Blackwood has murdered several prominent members of the Temple of the Four Orders, a secret society that uses magic to do good, taken over the society, and plans to take over Parliament as a stepping stone to taking back the American colonies, who are currently engaged in a Civil War. Meanwhile, Watson is planning his marriage to Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) while Holmes must deal with his old adversary, professional thief Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), who is working as an agent for a mysterious professor.

The character of Sherlock Holmes was created in 1887 by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) in A Study in Scarlet and went on to appear in three more novels and 56 short stories. However, Sherlock Holmes, the movie, is not based on any of Doyle's books but on a screenplay by British screenwriters Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg, and Lionel Wigram. A sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, was released in 2011.

Dr. John H. Watson is portrayed in the original stories as the friend, sometime roommate and professional associate of Sherlock Holmes. Watson serves as a historian of sorts for Holmes' cases and also as the narrator for all but a few of Doyle's original stories (Holmes narrates two of them and two are told in the third person). Watson will at times attempt to use deductive reasoning when asked by Holmes what his thoughts are on any particular subject pertaining to a case and will quickly be corrected by Holmes when he is wrong.

In the original stories Watson was about the same age as Holmes and, far from being a bumbler, he was a former Army surgeon and a competent medical doctor. (It is true that he wasn't as capable of Holmes' brilliant feats of deduction, but few others were.) The portrayal of Watson as a fat bumbling old man dates from the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce films, which are not entirely faithful to the original stories. Since then, there have been several more recent film and television adaptations that portray Dr. Watson accurately as a slim and capable man of action such as The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, the 1980s TV series, "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes ", and the most recent adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

In the original stories, Holmes is said (and sometimes shown) to be, among other things, a highly skilled amateur boxer. In the short story, "The Adventure of the Empty House", he uses a martial art popular at the time called Bartitsu, although Doyle misspelled it as "baritsu." The martial art mainly seen in the film, in particular the bare-knuckle boxing match scene, is Wing Chun. This is displayed through the straight-line punches, the use of the three lower knuckles and a sideways punch, the attack on the solar-plexus, the deflection of punches using the forearm (tan), the deflection of punches using a sweeping motion (lap), and the use of the front kick. Holmes is known for being quick, agile, and effective, and Wing Chun is just that, therefore suiting him perfectly.

That hat is called a "deerstalker," and as its name suggests, it's a hunting cap. In Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, Holmes is never expressly said to wear one, although in one story ("The Adventure of Silver Blaze") Watson describes a hat that could be a deerstalker and the original illustrator of the story, Sidney Paget, shows him wearing one. Another illustrator shows him wearing one in The Valley of Fear. In each case Holmes is traveling in the country, so the cap is more or less appropriate. But Holmes, who liked to dress well in the stories, never committed such an embarrassing contemporary fashion faux pas by wearing one in urban London. (Many of the illustrations to the original stories show him wearing other, more suitable hats.) The popular association of Holmes with the deerstalker began with the stage play by American actor and playwright William Gillette, who portrayed Holmes onstage wearing such a cap. Apparently the makers of this film decided to have Holmes wear more historically and fashionably accurate headgear. Gillette is also credited with Holmes' Callabash pipe, which he used onstage because it allowed him to talk while still having the pipe in his mouth.

Yes, Holmes occasionally used the drug when he did not have a case to stimulate his mind. Holmes was not breaking the law at the time because, even though drug use was considered a vice in 19th century England, it was not illegal. Holmes' other vices were morphine, cigars, and his trademark pipe (The Gooseneck pipe was not mentioned in the books, but was an addition by a stage actor who didn't want his face obscured). The Seven-Per-Center Solution, based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Meyer, has Watson trying to help Holmes deal with his addiction.

V.R. stands for Victoria Regina, better known as Queen Victoria, who was the Queen during Holmes' time.

Sherlock Holmes rented an apartment at 221B Baker Street, City of Westminster, London from his landlady Mrs. Hudson. This was a fictional address created by Doyle. At the time, Baker Street addresses only went up to 100. Holmes lived on the second floor, as indicated by the apartment number. The sitting-room served as the scene for most of his interviews with his clients. Currently, 221B Baker Street serves as the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It is the first Museum in the world to be dedicated to a fictional character.

The restaurant they ate in, when Holmes insults Watson's fiancee, is the Reform Club near Buckingham Palace, a club for politicians and those who move in political circles. It was the start of Phineas Fogg's journey around the world as portrayed in Jules Verne's novel Around the World in 80 Days (1879).

Watch the scene where thoughts are flowing through Holmes's mind as he recreates the ritual at the Punch Bowl. There is a brief blink-and-you'll-miss it shot of the Frenchman, Dredger, breaking someone's neck. Since the next shot shown is Reordan's body turning up in Blackwood's coffin, it is clear that Dredger killed Reordan.

How does the movie end?

With Blackwood hanging dead from the Tower of London, Holmes sees to Irene, having been pushed off the platform by Blackwood. She is unharmed, so Holmes (remembering her previous words: 'I don't want to run anymore') cuffs her, and waits for the police. In the meantime, Irene reveals that the mysterious man for whom she was working was Professor Moriarity. He found my weak spot, Irene admits, and warns Holmes not to underestimate Moriarity in the future. Holmes chuckles, put the key to the handcuffs down Irene's bodice, takes the diamond pendant from around her neck, and kisses her goodbye. Some days later, as Watson arrives with Mary to move out of 221B (look for the diamond pendant now appearing as an engagement ring on Mary's finger), Watson and Mary find Holmes hanging from a ceiling noose, trying to discover how Blackwood managed to survive the hanging. Holmes deduces that he used a hook and a body harness to take the weight off his neck and a serum made from the Rhodedendron ponticum to induce paralysis, which is why Watson could feel no pulse. In the final scene, Constable Clark (William Houston) stops by to inform Holmes that one of their officers was found dead in the sewers, killed by a small-gauge bullet between the eyes. Holmes deduces that Moriarity created the diversion with Irene, knowing that Holmes would chase after her, so that he could steal the part of the chemical converter that allowed it to be activated by radio waves. Realizing that Moriarity might be as clever as Irene described him, Holmes puts on his hat and declares, 'Case reopened.'

Only partially. Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as a smooth-talking, handsome hero-type character. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as a man with weak social skills but a strong mental intellect. Other features such as his martial arts skills are conserved from Doyle's works but amplified or even exaggerated. Finally, the general focus of the character (investigation, deductions, fights against evil, etc.) have been kept active.

Yes and no. It's an exciting, pacy thriller. However, the trailers definitely emphasized the action elements of the plot and the sexual undertones. The actual film, while having its fair share of fast-paced action, also has plenty of the sleuthing, deductions and wit associated with the Sherlock Holmes character. The sexual undertones are also much subtler in the film than what appeared in trailers and other publicity. The trailer also seems to contain some scenes which have been cut out of the final version of a movie.

No. They are more like brothers in this movie. *Holmes even says "Why would I be not invited to my own brothers country home, Watson?"* at one point. The suggestion of homosexuality is due more to the publicity surrounding the film, including Robert Downey Jr's frequent joking about the movie's supposedly gay content, rather than anything in the film itself. John Watson (as per Conan Doyle's stories) is engaged to be married, and there are strong romantic undertones to Holmes's friendship with Irene Adler. In keeping with the original stories, however, Holmes does not take it further.

Though it is a phrase that has been uttered in popular culture and in movies based on Sherlock Holmes stories, the detective never uttered the phrase in full in any of the Arthur Conan Doyles stories - he did say "Elementary" in some stories, and "my dear Watson" in others, but never the two together. The phrase is largely the creation of writers who have worked on other Holmes stories independent of Doyle's (beginning with American actor/playwright William Gillette, who, with Doyle's blessing, wrote and starred in a stage play about Holmes in which he used the phrase). Holmes does not utter this phrase in the movie.

Yes, Doyle did kill off Holmes in the story "The Final Problem " in a shared death plunge into a waterfall with his archenemy Professor Moriarty. Fortunately, Sherlock was restored, when disappointment among fans and large fees offered by publishers prompted Doyle to bring Holmes back in the short story "The Adventure of the Empty House". An alternate version of that story can be seen in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.

Yes, several writers for books, movies, radio and television shows have contributed Sherlock Holmes stories not considered canon to the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, but they are interesting and usually keep with the original spirit of the character. Examples include:

1. Arthur Conan Doyle's son contributed some Holmes stories in his The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes co-authored with John Dickson Carr.

2. Holmes is featured in a series of German-written books by author Theo van Blankensee, in which many of the characters such as Watson are replaced with other regulars who assist Holmes.

3. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) is about a teenage Sherlock Holmes in school, and contains some fantasy elements not seen in the original stories (although in typical Holmesian fashion, the fantasy is the result of clear science).

4. Mystery writer Laurie R. King has written a series of Mary Russell books in which a retired Sherlock Holmes meets a young woman named Mary Russell who becomes his friend and partner as he begins to teach her the art of detecting.

5. Stephen King has even written a Sherlock Holmes story, called The Doctor's Case. It was published in "New Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes" and in his short story collection "Nightmares & Dreamscapes." It details a case where Watson actually solved the crime before Holmes.

6. Michael Chabon also contributed to the Holmes canon with The Final Solution, about an ancient Sherlock Holmes solving one last mystery (although his name is never used in the story and left for the reader to infer.)

7. Nicholas Meyer, the noted author and film director, wrote three Sherlock Holmes pastich novels, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, The West End Horror and The Canary Trainer, the first of which was adapted into a film of the same name..

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