There's been another wave of "don't remake my childhood classic" on social media again this week, and there's a very big point those folks usually miss. So many of the movies we cherish most are movies of the moment, movies that hit us at the perfect time, sometimes early adolescence, when we overlook flaws, over-hype positives, and generally bond with a film. Which brings me back to Sherlock Holmes.
What if we let those people have their way every time?
William Gillette plays Sherlock Holmes throughout the first quarter of the 1900s. A lot of folks bond with him -- he is their Sherlock Holmes. Somebody becomes a huge fan at the age of thirteen attending his last performance in 1923. And, all of humanity decides to do that one guy a favor and let him live his dream of no new Sherlocks because it would spoil his childhood crush on Gillette. That man lives to the rip old age of 95.
This means William Gillette is the only Sherlock Holmes outside of the books humanity knows until the year 2005. Robert Downey Jr. becomes the next Sherlock Holmes after we skip all those actors, films, plays, TV shows, etc., that came before. And once Downey is locked in, well, forget Cumberbatch and Miller.
Sherlock Holmes provides us with the clearest example of why a good story needs to be told and retold in cinema. Each generation has its talents to bring to that story, and each generation (or even segments of that generation) has their own way to appreciate that story. And you know what? Sometimes one person's "classic" was a poor adaptation in the eyes of someone who was a little more discerning at that time. Thirteen-year-olds bond hard and don't always realize the problems with what they're bonding with -- there's a reason we don't let thirteen-year-olds marry.
We see that in more realms than just movies. Some changes are always held back by those waiting for one old man to die, some in more serious areas than movies, and our old men are living a lot longer these days. (Yes, I'm being sexist here. Old women have gummed up the works as well on occasion, but in Sherlockiana, I think it's primarily been old men at this point.)
A good time in the past was a good time in the past. Something to be cherished, but never at the cost of the future and new generations finding their own links to classic tales.
And I'm not saying anything about . . . mmmph ffrmmm mm mmmb fmbm mf!