Showing posts with label Jeremy Brett. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeremy Brett. Show all posts

Monday, December 24, 2018

Cast and Crew - Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes

This is my second post about the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, directed by Igor Maslennikov and starring Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin as “Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson”.

Please click here to read my earlier post.


russian mrs hudson image picture wallpaper screensaver poster

Rina Zelyonaya brings out the motherly and patient nature of the long-suffering landlady of the Bohemian detective. A nice touch is that Mrs Hudson is much smarter than the canonical one and is able to make a few deductions of her own.

Boris Klyuev makes a truly classy Mycroft, whose skills of observation and deduction exceed those of even Sherlock. He is bit on the leaner side, but nonetheless cuts a very commanding figure.

Boris Klyuev as Mycroft Holmes in the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
Boris Klyuev as Mycroft Holmes
Borislav Brondukov brings down the house with his portrayal of Inspector Lestrade. He is probably the best Lestrade ever in terms of physical appearance: small, rat-faced and sly. Where Borislav excels is the spirit and cheer that he imbues in his depiction of the famous Scotland Yard detective.


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Igor Maslennikov, the director of this TV series, has done a stupendous job. He completed his education in Journalism from Leningrad University in 1954. He has worked as editor, script writer, cameraman and director in a career spanning more than 30 years.


Igor Maselnnikov, the director of the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
Igor Maselnnikov, the director
Maslennikov's work on this adaptation of Sherlock Holmes brought him well-deserved recognition and success. Maslennikov's passion and reverence for Sir Doyle's works are evident in the aesthetically done opening credits as well as the costumes, sets and the casting choices. It would have taken considerable efforts from the director and his crew to recreate Victorian England in Russia. Hats off to the entire team and especially Maslennikov for helming such a wonderful and elegant adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

He is ably assisted by Vladimir Dashkevich, whose music takes the series to a whole new level. His music is an instant classic, in every sense of the word.

Vladimir Dashkevich, the music composer of the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
Vladimir Dashkevich, the music composer

The Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes is a perfect marriage of great ensemble acting, a classic soundtrack and impeccable direction.

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Image Source: Lenfilm Film Studio

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Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Poirot and Me by David Suchet - Book Review

Poirot and Me by David Suchet 2013 book review
 
This is a review of the Kindle version.

The final episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot, the critically acclaimed adaptation starring David Suchet as the Belgian detective aired recently.

To mark the historic occasion, David has released his take on the making of the series, his preparation for the iconic role and the uncertainties faced during the long running production.

Even though I have read only one or two of Agatha Christie's original stories, I confess to have enjoyed David Suchet's portrayal. In addition to being a good physical match for the legendary detective, Suchet also nails his quirks and accent to perfection.



Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin as Sherlock and Holmes and Dr John Watson in the Russian adaptation of The Hound of the BaskervillesDavid Suchet and Hugh Fraser as Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in Agatha Christie's Poirot


David Suchet is my personal favorite actor to play Hercule Poirot. He captures the essence of the eccentric Belgian detective in a way, that reminds me of Vasily Livanov's performance as Sherlock Holmes: definitive and quintessential.
 
It all started in 1988, when David was approached for the role by producer Brian Eastman. An unsure David was further shaken, as Christie's daughter, the late Rosalind Hicks asked him to ensure that his portrayal should not make a laughing stock out of Poirot.

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the Granada adaptationDavid Suchet as Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot

Determined to do justice to Agatha Christie's work as well as his own artistic integrity, David set out to read the original stories and prepared a list of the all the idiosyncrasies of the fastidious Poirot. This reminded me of the 77 page “Baker Street File” maintained by the late Jeremy Brett for the Granada adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

David gives instances of how he fought to keep his version of Poirot loyal to his creator, often against the wishes of the director.


David Suchet, Hugh Fraser and Pauline Moran as Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings and Miss Lemon in Agatha Christie's Poirot

Any reader familiar with the Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot stories would have easily noticed the similarities: Arthur Hastings (John Watson), Miss Felicity Lemon (Mrs Hudson) and Chief Inspector James Harold Japp (Inspector Lestrade). 

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David confirms the same by stating that Agatha Christie was a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories when she was growing up.

Agatha differentiated her creation from the world's greatest detective in terms of not only his physicality and personality traits, but also his technique of solving crimes.


David Suchet as the fussy and fastidious Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie Poirot


Sherlock Holmes is renowned for solving mysteries using his skills of observation and deduction. Hercule Poirot approaches his cases from a psychological perspective.

Just as any adaptation of Sherlock Holmes benefits from the ensemble cast, the Poirot adaptation too has had one of the best ever assembled for a production.


David Suchet and Philip Jackson as Hercule Poirot and Inspector Japp in Agatha Christie's Poirot Christmas


Hugh Fraser, Pauline Moran and Philip Jackson are synonymous with their roles of Hastings, Lemon and Japp respectively.

Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver with David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's Poirot

The series got even better with the addition of Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver, a crime author. Agatha Christie created this character to voice her own frustrations with Hercule Poirot.


The chemistry between Poirot and Oliver is the highlight, whenever she makes an appearance on the show.

Bob, wire-haired terrier dog in Agatha Christie's Poirot Dumb Witness

As good as the aforementioned recurring cast members are, the guest stars have often stolen the show. My personal favorite (and to some extent, David's as well) is Snubby, a wire-haired terrier who played Bob, the title character in “Dumb Witness”.

Also of note is the fact that, two Dr Who actors have been part of the series: Christopher Eccleston (“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”, 1992) and the current Dr Who, Peter Capaldi (“Wasps' Nest”, 1991).

The series has also benefited from having some on of the finest screenwriters: Clive Exton, Anthony Horowitz and Mark Gatiss. Mark Gatiss would also star in one of the episodes (“Appointment with Death”, 2010).

Nothing in life is a walk in the park and it was not the case for this show either. Despite the cast and crew's best efforts, a few episodes did not turn out well as expected. Further, there were times when David himself was not sure if he would be able to complete his dream of filming all Poirot stories.

To quote Agatha's favorite writer, William Shakespeare himself: All's well that ends well.

David Suchet and Hugh Fraser as Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in Agatha Christie's Poirot

Completing the entire Canon of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories is a crowning achievement. Very few actors have had such privilege and honor. To the best of my knowledge, Clive Merrison is the only actor to have played Sherlock Holmes in all 56 short stories and 4 novels on radio.

A superb lead actor and supporting cast, combined with lavish budgets (especially for the later seasons) and excellent scripts have resulted in a classic adaptation. A fitting tribute to the genius of the best selling novelist the world has seen.

Congratulations, David and wishing you the very best in your upcoming projects.

Recommended read for fans of David Suchet's Poirot and/or Agatha Christie's stories.

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Image Sources: Poirot and Me by David Suchet, Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes by David Stuart Davies, Flickr

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

BBC Sherlock - Season 3 Episode # 3 Title revealed!

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. BBC Sherlock Season 3 Episode # 3 title name revealed as His Last Vow.

Dear Readers,

The title for the final episode of Season 3 of BBC series Sherlock is "His Last Vow". The episode is written by Steven Moffat and will be directed by Nick Hurran.

The name is a reference to "His Last Bow", the collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories published between 1908 to 1917. The last story in that series is also referred to by the same name.

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss continue their game of paying tribute to the Canon and at the same time, providing their own flavor.

The titles of the first two episodes are "The Empty Hearse" and "The Sign of Three".

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Image Source: Hartswood Films

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Canonical References in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode # 2 - "The Blind Banker"


Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker


As with any episode of BBC Sherlock, there are a number of references to the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle:

1. Sherlock’s amused smile at the thought of breaking into John’s laptop and later commenting to John about the ease with which he cracked John’s password – Sherlock’s statement in The Valley of Fear: “Because there are many ciphers which I would read as easily as I do the apocrypha of the agony column: such crude devices amuse the intelligence without fatiguing it.”

2. Watson checking out the scratch on the furniture due to the fight between Sherlock and the intruder – Sherlock Holmes’ remark from The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone: “No violence, gentlemen–no violence, I beg of you! Consider the furniture!”

3. Sherlock getting a case from his college friend, Sebastian – Sherlock Holmes mentions to Watson in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual: “Now and again cases came in my way, principally through the introduction of old fellow-students, for during my last years at the university there was a good deal of talk there about myself and my methods.”

4. Sherlock not being very effusive when meeting Sebastian – John’s line about Sherlock in A Scandal in Bohemia: “His manner was not effusive. It seldom was; but he was glad, I think, to see me.”

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5. Sebastian’s remark about Sherlock: “You are doing that thing again” and explaining to John about how Sherlock’s powers of deduction back in the college days – Sherlock Holmes’ friend, Reginald Musgrave remarks in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual: “But I understand, Holmes, that you are turning to practical ends those powers with which you used to amaze us?”. In The Adventure of the Gloria Scott, Sherlock’s friend Victor Trevor comments about Sherlock’s powers to Trevor Sr. As Sherlock remarks: “he old man evidently thought that his son was exaggerating in his description of one or two trivial feats which I had performed.”

6. The character of Sebastian seems to be based on Reginald Musgrave, based on his body language and dressing sense. Here is how Sherlock describes Musgrave in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual: “He had changed little, was dressed like a young man of fashion -- he was always a bit of a dandy -- and preserved the same quiet, suave manner which had formerly distinguished him.”

7. Sherlock’s response to Sebastian’s offer of an advance check to solve the case - “I don’t need incentive to solve the case” – This is one of Sherlock Holmes’ quintessential characteristics and has been mentioned a number of times in the Canon:
  1. “I play the game for the game's own sake,” from The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
  2. “The work itself, the pleasure of finding a field for my peculiar powers, is my highest reward.” from The Sign of Four
  3. “And you don't want your name to appear?”. “Not at all. The work is its own reward.” from The Adventure of the Norwood Builder.
  4. “ Holmes, however, like all great artists, lived for his art's sake, and, save in the case of the Duke of Holdernesse, I have seldom known him claim any large reward for his inestimable services.” from The Adventure of Black Peter
  5. “What, indeed? It is art for art's sake, Watson. I suppose when you doctored you found yourself studying cases without thought of a fee?” from The Adventure of the Red Circle
  6. “No of course, it is art for art’s sake with him,…” from The Adventure of the Retired Colourman
  7. “It may surprise you to know that I prefer to work anonymously, and that it is the problem itself which attracts me.” from The Problem of Thor Bridge

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker


8. John Watson loaning money from Sherlock and later getting the check from Sebastian. John also admits to taking the job purely for money, when Sarah mentions that he might be overqualified – John’s line from The Sign of Four: “What was I, an army surgeon with a weak leg and a weaker banking-account,..”.

9. Sherlock Holmes enters Eddie Van Coon's apartment by ingratiating with another lady tenant who just moved in recently – Dr Watson remarks about Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez: “I may have remarked before that Holmes had, when he liked, a peculiarly ingratiating way with women, and that he very readily established terms of confidence with them. In half the time which he had named, he had captured the housekeeper’s goodwill and was chatting with her as if he had known her for years.”

10. The character of Detective Inspector Dimmock – Reference to the fact that Scotland Yard officers are not (usually) very bright in the Sherlock Holmes Canon.

11. Sherlock dramatically explaining how it is difficult for a left handed to shoot himself on the right side (or vice versa) – Holmes himself states in The Adventure of the Naval Treaty: “..but Watson here will tell you that I never can resist a touch of the dramatic.”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker

12. Sherlock’s line indicating his eagerness to prove his point to Inspector Dimmock about Eddie Van Coon being left-handed: “Do you want me to go on?”. He proceeds to do the same, despite John’s disapproval. Again, later Sherlock provides a scientific fact about human memory on visual matters to make John remember about a graffiti – Sherlock’s statement in The Adventure of the Red-Headed League: “You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be right.”

13. Sherlock mentions to Dimmock: “Only explanation of all the facts” – Sherlock makes a similar statement in The Sign of Four: “The facts appear to admit of only one explanation.”

14. John Watson meekly follows Sherlock as he leaves Van Coon’s apartment without waiting for John - 
  1. “He gave no explanations and I asked for none. By long experience I had learned the wisdom of obedience.” from The Adventure of the Illustrious Client 
  2. “There was nothing for it, however, but implicit obedience;” from The Hound of the Baskervilles.
15. Sherlock has not noticed John’s absence for quite some time, while John is out for his job interview – Sherlock Holmes has done this a number of times in the Canon.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Zoe Telford as Sherlock Holmes, John Watson and Sarah in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker

16. John’s response to Sherlock’s question about his job interview - “She is great” (referring to Sarah) – Dr John Watson being a ladies man. As he himself states in The Sign of the Four – “In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents,…”

17. Sherlock’s description of the killer as “climbing the side of the walls, running along the roof…” and “Small, but athletic…”– This reminded me of Tonga, the pygmy from The Sign of the Four.

18. Sherlock solving a series of cryptic symbols – Sherlock Holmes solves a series of clues (designed to look like a child’s drawings) in The Adventure of The Dancing Men.

19. Sherlock’s line: “The world’s run on codes and ciphers, John…Cryptography inhabits our every waking moment…electronic codes, electronic ciphering methods.” – Arthur Conan Doyle himself was a big fan of cryptography. As Sherlock states in The Sign of the Four: “"My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere.”

20. Sherlock’s statement: “I need advice… You heard me. I am not saying it again.” and John’s line expressing his irritation at Sherlock entering Soo Lin Yao’s apartment alone: “I am Sherlock and I work alone because no one can compete with my massive intellect” – John Watson makes this statement in The Sign of the Four: “More than once during the years that I had lived with him in Baker Street I had observed that a small vanity underlay my companion's quiet and didactic manner.”

21. Inspector Dimmock remarks to John Watson: “Your friend, he is an arrogant sod” – Reference to Sherlock Holmes' practice of making fun of Scotland Yard officers.

22. John Watson lamenting over his lack of sleep: “God, I need some sleep.. Just 20 minutes..”. Sherlock is still working on the case – Sherlock Holmes mentions in The Sign of the Four: “No, I could not sleep,” he answered. “This infernal problem is consuming me. It is too much to be balked by so petty an obstacle, when all else had been overcome.”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes studying Chinese Ming Pottery in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker

23. Sherlock recognizes the mark as belonging to an ancient crime syndicate in China – Dr Watson mentions about Holmes in A Study in Scarlet: “Sensational Literature.—Immense.  He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.” The society and its markings could also be a reference to The Five Orange Pips, in which Sherlock tries to save his client from Ku Klux Klan, who send 5 orange pips to their intended victims.

24. Sherlock mentions to Molly: “Don’t eat when I am working. Digesting slows me down” and also skips food at the restaurant in China Town –
  1. Dr Watson’s statement from The Adventure of the Norwood Builder:“My friend had no breakfast himself, for it was one of his peculiarities that in his more intense moments he would permit himself no food, and I have known him presume upon his iron strength until he has fainted from pure inanition. “At present I cannot spare energy and nerve force for digestion,” he would say in answer to my medical remonstrances. I was not surprised, therefore, when this morning he left his untouched meal behind him, and started with me for Norwood.”.
  2. From The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone: “You have not, I hope, learned to despise my pipe and my lamentable tobacco? It has to take the place of food these days.” “But why not eat?” “Because the faculties become refined when you starve them. Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion gains in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider.”
25. Sherlock complimenting Molly’s hair in order to examine the corpses of Eddie Van Coon and Brian Lukis – Sherlock Holmes has used Social Engineering tactics in a number of cases in the Canon.

26. Sherlock informs Molly that he only needs to take a look at the feet of the corpses of Eddie Van Coon and Brian Lukis – In The Adventure of the Red-Headed League, Sherlock Holmes only takes a look at John Clay’s knees when he makes a visit to Jabez Wilson’s shop.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in Chinatown in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker

27. Sherlock’s decoding the symbols using books and is initially unable to pick out the correct book to solve the code. Later, he deduces it is the book containing London’s map – In The Valley of Fear, Sherlock Holmes deciphers the code sent by Porlock, one of Professor Moriarty’s agents from books. Sherlock initially uses the latest version of almanac and later correctly picks an older version.

28. Sherlock’s response to Dimmock, when the latter offers to help: “Some silence right now would be marvelous” – Sherlock makes a similar statement to Dr Watson in The Adventure of the Red-Headed League:  “To smoke," he answered. It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes.”

29. Sherlock using London map book to solve the messages – Dr Watson suggest Bradshaw, when trying to decipher Porlock’s code in The Valley of Fear. George Bradshaw was an English cartographer.

30. Sarah saves Sherlock from his attacker at the circus and also helps him in breaking the code – The character of Sarah could be a nod to the strong female characters in the Canon, like Maud Bellamy, Violet Hunter and Annie Harrison.

31. Sherlock deducing the affair between Eddie Van Coon and his secretary based on the scented cream and hand wash used by both of them – Sherlock Holmes makes a deduction based on Beryl Stapleton’s perfume in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker

32. The Chinese artifacts/Ming Pottery used in the plot could be a reference to The Adventure of the Illustrious Client, in which Holmes asks Watson to “spend the next twenty-four hours in an intensive study of Chinese pottery.”

33. Sherlock prefers that Sarah leaves 221 B – 
  1. “His aversion to women and his disinclination to form new friendships were both typical of his unemotional character,..” from The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter
  2. “I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind, as you are aware, Watson,…” from The Valley of Fear
  3. From A Scandal in Bohemia: “…while Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books,…”.
  4. From The Adventure of the Reigate Squire: “but when Holmes understood that the establishment was a bachelor one, and that he would be allowed the fullest freedom, he fell in with my plans  and a week after our return from Lyons we were under the colonel's roof.”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Zoe Telford as Sherlock Holmes and Sarah in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker


34. Sherlock is averse to Sarah’s attempts to help him solve the encrypted message – 
  1. “He used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late.” from A Scandal in Bohemia.
  2. “His aversion to women and his disinclination to form new friendships were both typical of his unemotional character,..” from The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter
  3. “I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind, as you are aware, Watson,…” from The Valley of Fear.
35. Sherlock’s line: “How would you describe me, John? Resourceful. Dynamic. Enigmatic.” – Reference to this description of Holmes by Dr Watson from The Adventure of the Red-Headed League: “…Holmes, the sleuth-hound, Holmes the relentless, keen-witted, ready-handed criminal agent,..”

36. Sherlock using single stick on a thug – Reference to Holmes’ single stick expertise as listed by John Watson in A Study in Scarlet.

37. The dart hitting the thug and missing Sherlock – Sherlock and Watson had a similar near death experience, when chasing Jonathan Small and Tonga on the Thames in The Sign of the Four.

38. Sherlock's advice to Inspector Dimmock: “Don’t mention my name in the case”
  1. “I should prefer that you do not mention my name at all in connection with the case,..” from The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
  2. "And you don't want your name to appear?" from The Adventure of the Norwood Builder
  3. ““I need not appear in the matter at all,” said Holmes to the evident relief of our melancholy acquaintance.“If I can clear it up I don’t ask to have my name mentioned.”” from The Problem of Thor Bridge
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 2 The Blind Banker



39. Sherlock asking Inspector Dimmock to follow his advice to have a successful career.
  1. Similar advice to Athelney Jones in The Sign of the Four: “…But you must put yourself under my orders. You are welcome to all the official credit, but you must act on the lines that I point out. Is that agreed?”.
  2. Similar advice to Forbes in The Adventure of the Naval Treaty: “I don’t blame you for not knowing this, for you are young and inexperienced, but if you wish to get on in your new duties you will work with me and not against me.”
40. Shan, the Black Lotus General thanking Moriarty for his help in giving her passage to London – Sherlock explains Professor Moriarty's organization in The Adventure of the Final Problem: “He does little himself. He only plans. But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized. Is there a crime to be done, a paper to be abstracted, we will say, a house to be rifled, a man to be removed -- the word is passed to the professor, the matter is organized and carried out.”

41. Moriarty having Shan killed to punish her for her failure and to prevent her from disclosing his identity – Sherlock Holmes describes Professor Moriarty in The Valley of Fear: “In the first place, I may tell you that Moriarty rules with a rod of iron over his people. His discipline is tremendous. There is only one punishment in his code. It is death. Now we might suppose that this murdered man—this Douglas whose approaching fate was known by one of the arch-criminal's subordinates—had in some way betrayed the chief. His punishment followed, and would be known to all—if only to put the fear of death into them.”

42. The leaving of threatening messages in a secret code (known only to the gang members) is a reference to the plot of The Adventure of the Dancing Men.

Please feel free to comment on any references I might have missed.

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