1. Arthur Conan Doyle’s short “The Mazarin Stone” is a short story concerning Holmes’s search for a Crown diamond called the Mazarin Stone. The short is unique out of Doyle’s portfolio in that is written in third-person, while most Holmes stories are written in first-person. Most of the short story takes place within Holmes’s Baker Street Residence and is dialogue between him and Count Negretto Slyvius, who he suspects took the Crown diamond. Watson is almost completely absent from the short story, appearing only in the very beginning of the story before reappearing at the end with the police.
2. The film version of Sherlock Holmes pits the sleuth against Lord Blackwood, who seeks to destroy Parliament with the use of black magic and dark arts, which he used to apparently rise from the dead. The Holmes in the film is equally as logical as his literary counterpart, but is more witty and womanizing than Doyle’s literary version. He also is portrayed as more of a fighter than his literary counterpart, engaging in bare-knuckle street fights in the film, but Ritchie’s film sticks true to Doyle’s recipe, as ultimately Holmes’s logic allows him to save the day.
3. Guy Ritchie’s version of Sherlock Holmes is a loose adaptation of the texts. The plot of the movie is an original story, with the two heroes (Holmes and Watson) adaptations of the literary heroes. Aside from those two, just two other characters are from Doyle’s texts: Watson’s bride-to-be Mary and Irene Adler, Holmes’s romantic interest. Adler, a one-off romantic interest in another short story, was chosen to be Holmes’s romantic interest in the film. Her backstory remains mostly the same from the short story, but Adler’s profession is changed to be a thief and she is divorced rather than married—making it appropriate for her to show romantic feelings toward Holmes as well.
This article was a breakdown of the polarizing fight scenes in the film, which some saw as an unnecessary addition to the film and Holmes’s character. The fighting style, bartitsu, was actually used as a reference in a Holmes short story, erroneously called “baritsu,” which Holmes used a tactic from the style to slip out of an enemy’s grip and send him over the edge of a waterfall. The film’s fight choreographer Richard Ryan said the fight styles were modeled off of a type of kung fu Robert Downey Jr. practices, Wing Chun, which has vertically oriented punches like the film style used. Ryan said they added in the scenes of Holmes breaking down his attacks as way to show how logical Holmes is, even in fighting.
Gawker went and found the script for the Sherlock Holmes film after a quote from Robert Downey Jr. set off the blogosphere with rumors that Ritchie’s adaptation was going to be a gay love story, equally causing praise and horror over the supposed decision. The scene in question Downey’s comment referenced was the one where Watson lets Holmes know he is getting married.
I put these two together because they both make reference to the changes in Holmes’s appearance for the film—the lack of a Deerstalker cap and magnifying glass, and the addition of his long hair, five o’clock shadow, and his fighting prowess. The Wired article posed the question if people were ready to see Holmes like that, and the blogger’s review of the article felt the characterization was too much of a departure from the text.
5. Ritchie’s addition of fighting scenes are meant to be a refreshing addition to the Holmes character and function like that in the film, but purists would find it a desecration of the Holmes character. Purists would find the fight scenes an unnecessary addition because he is not a brawler like the Holmes of the film; Doyle rarely wrote scenes where Holmes would fight. However, Ritchie uses them to show Holmes’s skill and logic, while also playing on Downey’s masculinity. Holmes is shown to be an expert fighter in the film, and uses his logic and knowledge of the human body to inflict maximum damage in his strikes. Ritchie’s transitioning of Holmes’s customary logic to the fight scenes is fresh, albeit Hollywood-esque take on Holmes and his intellect (after all, violence is a moneymaker) but it’s not enough of a true departure from the Holmes character for it to be a desecration of the character.