Friday, August 17, 2012

Movie Review - Young Sherlock Holmes

Young Sherlock Holmes
Inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Release Date: December 4th, 1985
Starring: Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Sophie Ward, Anthony Higgins, Susan Fleetwood, Freddie Jones, Nigel Stock, Roger Ashton-Griffiths and Earl Rhodes
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

A young John Watson is sent to Brompton Academy in London after his previous school is shut down. There, on the next bunk, trying to learn the violin, is a young Sherlock Holmes, who is put out because he should have mastered the violin in the three days he's had it. But at least he is able to quickly deduce all their is about Watson, the son of a Doctor from the north of England who is overly fond of custard tarts. Holmes takes Watson under his wing and shows him the ropes at the school. The real benefit of the school is that up in the rafters one of the retired teachers, Rupert T. Waxflatter has created a laboratory to rival anyone and spends most of his time working on a Da Vinci-esque flying machine, mentoring Holmes, and taking care of his orphaned niece Elizabeth, who is Holmes's love interest.

Yet things aren't as idyllic as they seem. There is an odd man hanging around the school looking to talk to Waxflatter. Also, there is an odd jingly sound heard on several occasions. Two distinguished men, Bentley Bobster and Reverend Duncan Nesbitt, have committed suicide. But if they committed suicide, why was Waxflatter interested in their deaths? Holmes takes his queries to a young police officer, Lestrade, who brushes Holmes aside. The trios investigation is put on hold when Holmes is expelled, despite his teacher Rathe speaking up for him. One of the other students has framed Holmes, very nicely indeed, for cheating. Holmes's perfect school record works against him because it is assumed by the board that only a cheater could reach that level of perfection. They just don't understand the brilliance of Holmes!

As Holmes is about to be sent away, Waxflatter kills himself... Holmes knows that what appears to be the case couldn't be, and with Waxflatter's dying words "Eh-tar" the game is afoot! Soon Elizabeth, Watson and Holmes are racing through the streets of London and uncovering an ancient Egyptian cult, the Rame Tep, who are worshippers of Osiris. They have revenge in mind and the diabolical genius behind the evil machinations might just changes Holmes's life forever.

There are movies that forever change you and help form the person you are. For me there where a few: Clue, The Princess Bride, The Wrong Box, The 'burbs, and, of course, Young Sherlock Holmes. This movie forever shaped my sensibilities and instilled a love of Victoriana and Egypt, not to mention mysteries, in me.  Though it also provided me with a great fear of Egyptian cults and mummification, which exists to this day in one form or another, but not to the extent that made me hide from King Tut in the stairwell when I went to the Tut exhibit as a small child at the Field Museum in Chicago. But I think that had more to do with the fact my Dad told me that the mummies all came alive at night and if I wasn't careful I would be locked in with them and they'd attack me. Yes, because I had a "normal" childhood.

Dispite the fear I still have whenever I hear the Rame Tep chanting, the music being played at last year's Teslacon during the mummy unwrapping sure didn't help any, I love Egyptian history and art. I adore poplar fiction set in Egypt from Elizabeth Peters to the Theodosia Throckmorton books by Robin LaFevers. I go to any Egyptian exhibit I can. I can tell you if an artifact is Mesopotamian or Egyptian just from a cursery look. Because of this movie my world view was expanded and therefore, being a book worm, I sought out knowledge and information. I have a brain bursting with facts just because of the little seeds planted by Spielberg years before. And yes, I still want to ask why there really wasn't any representation of Osiris in the pyramid set of a cult devoted to him, instead just his buddy Anubis hanging out.

Yet, it's not just Egypt that got me. The whole Gaslight Victorian romance aspect hooked me too. If you think about this film, you could quite easily remove the "Holmes" element and still have a corking good mystery and movie on your hand. The Holmesian elements just add another layer. People might argue with me as to why I love the romance aspect. Part of it is that I just want to hear Nicholas Rowe say my name over and over again. Holmes purists would decry the idea of lost love being the reason for Holmes's somewhat puritanical sex life. But to me, it comes down to that fact that, as Holmes says, he never wants to be alone. That is an astute observation, and a sad one, because isn't that what we all want? And an arch nemesis doesn't really fill that void.


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