28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Some miss the point,
This review is from: The Return of Sherlock Holmes - The Sign of Four [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a teriffic movie, and I find it intriguing that people who claim to have read the book rate this so poorly. Strangely, they complain that Jeremy Brett's illness partly ruins his performance as Holmes. Anyone who has read the original canon knows that illness and Holmes went hand in hand: even though Watson describes him as having an "iron constitution," the man was frequently sick from overwork, drug and tobacco abuse, lack of sleep, and simply from not eating. Brett's illness actually works well with the series - almost as if his real life was mirroring that of the fictional detective - with one exception: Brett gained weight whereas Holmes, when ill, became very, very thin.
This iteration of Sign of Four is a beautifully crafted piece. The period detail can still alarm me with its quality, even after repeated viewings. Viewers are absolutely immersed in the Baker Street of the late Victorian period.
The scenes of Sherlock's physical investigation of crime scenes are well rendered, faithfully presented the "real" Holmes in action, as described by Doyle. We even get to hear some of Sherlock's more quotable aphorisms which seem to be lifted from the actual text. Also, we see a bit of the detective's less pleasant social habits and misogyny - a bit of his darker side.
The only thing that makes this interpretation of the book suffer is that it is **TOO** faithful to the original work. The long passage near the end of Johnathan Small's monologue has always dragged this story a bit and makes screen representations difficult. It's not that the film interpreted it poorly - it's that this passage simply violates the traditional climactic structure of a standard two hour film. This was typical of the Holmes novels, where Sherlock would be "off-screen" for long periods.
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Initial post: Oct 28, 2012 8:06:21 PM PDT
I applaud and agree with your review in every way except one point, which is that you claim it is "too faithful" to the original work. The one thing that has always annoyed me about this adaptation is that [SPOILER ALERT, FILM AND NOVEL!] in the original novel, Watson married Mary Morstan once the obstacle of the Agra treasure had been removed but in this film adaptation, she simply passes out of his life. I have always assumed that they changed this key plot point because the feature-length films came out AFTER most of the regular-length adventures had been adapted for TV and broadcast, and it would have been odd to introduce a wife for Watson at this late stage, whereas with the original hard copy publications, The Sign of Four preceded all of the short stories.
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