f you believe what you read, then Benedict Cumberbatch
If you believe what you read, then Benedict Cumberbatch is the best on screen Sherlock Homes
those fans with slightly longer memories, though, Cumberbatch is just one more
name in the ever expanding list of luminaries who have taken on the challenge
of playing the great detective. That list currently includes over 70 actors,
including such odd choices as Roger
Moore, Stewart Granger, Charlton Heston and George C Scott. Only a very small
number have managed to inhabit Holmes’ patent leather boots convincingly, or
with enough charm for us hard core fans to be taken in, hook line and copy of
the Angling Times.
Basil Rathbone? Certainly. Jeremy
Brett? Absolutely. Benedict Cumberbatch? Possibly. Vasili Livanov? Who?
early 1980s, while Granada TV and
Jeremy Brett were winning accolade and accolade with their superlative
Sherlock, in Russia Vasili Livanov was doing just the same. The series,
comprised of 11 films, was one of the most successful in Russian TV history and
led to Livanov being awarded an honorary MBE in 2006. So Mr Bongo’s new release
of The Hound Of The Baskerville’s is
great news for Holmes fans. The big question is: how well does an English icon
like Holmes translate into a Russian production?
although The Hound Of The Baskerville’s is the most well known Holmesian tale,
it’s also one in which the Baker Street detective barely appears. Which is a
shame, as there’s lots to like about Livanov’s thoughtful performance. Even if
he does wear a deerstalker.
Holmes would be nothing without ‘his’ Watson
and The Hound Of The Baskerville’s gives plenty of space for the other half of
the detecting duo – Dr Watson – to shine. Rathbone had Nigel Bruce. Brett had David
Burke and Edward Hardwicke.
Livanov had Vitaly Solomin. With his
sandy hair, neatly trimmed moustaches and military air, Solomin is every inch
the Watson of our imaginations. But it’s when he interacts with Holmes that we
catch a glimpse of what made this series so successful. In real life Livanov
and Solomin were great friends, and the warmth of their relationship radiates
on screen. Watson seems perpetually amused by his friend’s behaviour, as though
indulging a naughty older brother. Holmes, in turn, never takes himself too seriously.
The result is a winning combination.
of the series is good too, although it can’t have been easy to recreate the
unique look of Victorian London in an Eastern European setting. In fact the
only thing which really lets the production down are the appallingly bad
English subtitles. Hopefully this is something the distributors will get right
next time. And here’s hoping that there will be a next time because Livanov’s
Homes and Solomin’s Watson deserves to be appreciated by a much wider audience.