Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book Review: Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes by David Stuart Davis

Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes by David Stuart Davis

This is a review of the Kindle version.

David Stuart Davies is a big fan of Brett’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes and his admiration leaps right out of the pages. His book gives great insight into the inception and making of the Granada series. The book delves on how Michael Cox, the producer cast Jeremy Brett and David Burke. David Burke had to leave the series due to some pressing personal concerns and the mantle passed on to Edward Hardwicke (who was suggested for the role by Burke himself).

The series makers have taken the utmost pains to make as faithful an adaptation of the canon as possible. Right from the casting of the principal characters to the sets and locations, the series does great justice to the stories. Jeremy Brett was passionate about his work and did considerable research to make the best possible adaptation.

David illustrates this by citing the example of The Hound of the Baskervilles where Holmes observes Watson’s reflection in a shining coffee pot. Brett realized that he could not see the reflection in a coffee pot, but in the lid. As can be seen in the Granada adaptation, Holmes points to the lid of the coffee pot. This is but one of the many trifling details that Brett painstakingly worked on to give what is considered by many as the definitive portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the Granada adaptation
Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes

To his credit, David gives a fairly objective critique of the series. He candidly agrees about the deterioration in the performance of Brett as his physical tribulations worsened considerably even as the series kept chugging on. I have often considered that the Holmes as portrayed by Brett was as much a reflection of Brett’s personal characteristics as much of Holmes.

Click on the link to buy the book:

In the adaptation of The Adventure of the Creeping Man, Brett’s Holmes is quite hostile towards the army personnel. There is no such description in the canon. David explains the reason for this hostility: Brett’s father was in the army and never approved of his son’s decision to take up the acting profession. Jeremy in fact had to change his family name from Huggins to Brett in order to take up the acting profession at the insistence of his father. The lack of approval from his father seems to have had a significant psychological effect on Jeremy and unfortunately comes out quite strongly in the aforementioned episode.

The same issue crops up again when Brett imagined the childhood of Holmes. As per his description, the younger Holmes was a social outcast while his brother Mycroft was always ahead in studies and settled in life nicely. Sherlock would have been a school dropout and finally became the only consulting detective in the world. The interesting fact to be noted is that even here, Brett imagined Holmes’s father to be “an army toad”.

As the series progressed (as did Brett’s manic depression), more and more of Brett came into his portrayal of Holmes, making the real Holmes almost an afterthought.

(An aside: if you are looking for help with manic depression or any mental health issues you may be facing, BetterHelp is one of the world's largest e-counseling platforms. BetterHelp has the resources to provide you with help.)

Here is a clip from "The Musgrave Ritual", in which Brett (as Holmes) is unable to control his fits of laughter:

The book delves quite a bit into the physical hardships Brett had to undergo and it is quite depressing to read. Brett suffered greatly and still insisted on donning the grease-paint.

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the Granada adaptation
Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes.

This book is a must read for fans of the Granada adaptation and/or Jeremy Brett.

Click here to read all my posts about the Granada adaptation.

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Image Source: Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes by David Stuart Davies

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Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Great Horned Owl - Tiger of the Woods

Great Horned Owl

Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum  : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Strigiformes
Family : Strigidae
Genus : Bubo
Scientific name : Bubo virginianus
Protection status : Least Concern
Diet : Owls are carnivores
Habitat : Forests, woodlands and shrublands.
Life span : 5 to 15 years

The Great Horned Owls are the largest owls in North America. They are also referred to as Cat Owls. They are nocturnal hunters. They can be easily identified by their large piercing eyes and their horn shaped ears.

These predatory birds are fearless and aggressive by nature and frequently attack prey that are large and heavy, including cats, rabbits, porcupines and even skunks. If their nesting areas are threatened, these birds will counterattack even when they are faced with large dogs or even humans. The male owls are smaller than their female counterparts and have a much lower-pitched call.

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Photo and Video were taken at Maymont Park, Virginia.

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