The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Russian: Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона) is a series of Soviet television films portraying Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional English detective, starting in 1979. They were directed by Igor Maslennikov. In 2006, Vasily Livanov became an Honorary MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.
Plot and production
Between 1979 and 1986, Soviet television produced a series of five films at the Lenfilm movie studio, split into eleven episodes, starring Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes and Vitaly Solomin as Dr. Watson. Later, a cinematic adaptation was made based on the 1986 episodes. This film was called The Twentieth Century Approaches. The series ran as follows:
- 1979 Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
- 1980 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
- 1981 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Hound of the Baskervilles. Two episodes based on "The Hound of the Baskervilles".
- 1983 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Treasures of Agra. Two episodes based on "The Sign of the Four" and "A Scandal in Bohemia".
- 1986 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Twentieth Century Approaches. Two episodes based on "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb", "The Adventure of the Second Stain", "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" and "His Last Bow".
Unlike some of their Western counterparts, the films are very close to the literary source. Some of the departures include Holmes' easy-going and humorous demeanor, as well as comic relief provided by some of the characters (most notably that of Sir Henry Baskerville and his butler Barrymore in The Hound of the Baskervilles episode).
The series' soundtrack was composed by Vladimir Dashkevich; the introductory piece has become one of the most recognizable pieces of cinematic music in the former Soviet Union. The tune intentionally resembles an hourly musical logo played on the shortwave BBC World Service, and Maslennikov confirmed in a later interview that he wanted a very similar tune which could be identified with the spirit of Great Britain.
- Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes
- Vitaly Solomin as Dr. Watson
- Rina Zelyonaya as Mrs. Hudson
- Borislav Brondukov as Inspector Lestrade
- Igor Dmitriev as Tobias Gregson
- Viktor Yevgrafov as Professor Moriarty
Difference from the original title
Some scenes in the films were altered to satisfy censorship requirements or to make the plot line easier to understand. In the adaptation of A Study in Scarlet, Holmes never mentions that he uses cocaine since drug use was banned on Soviet television and in films. Also, the location of Watson's army service was changed from Afghanistan to "colonies in the East" since it was believed parallels would be drawn with the Soviet Army which had recently entered Afghanistan, which would in turn change the audience's perception of Watson's character.
The films were positively received by the Soviet audience, noting the actors' masterful portrayal of the main characters and the production's attention to detail. The series became a cultural phenomenon and to this day remain a legendary masterpiece of Soviet television. In the West, the reception of the series was warm, especially in the United Kingdom. British critics have pointed out that the creators of the series have treated the original source with due care and respect, and have successfully transferred the atmosphere of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works. In 2006, Vasily Livanov became an Honorary MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for his masterful portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Livanov's wax statue is displayed in the Sherlock Holmes museum in London. In 2007, a statue to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, as played by Livanov and Solomin, was erect in Moscow near the British embassy. In 2007, to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes novel, a New Zealand private coin manufacturer New Zealand Mint produced a limited edition memorial coin series in silver, with the likenesses of Livanov and Solomin, as well as other Soviet actors from the Sherlock Holmes series.
- Sherlock Holmes (2013) - Russian TV Series
- (in Russian) "Sherlock Holmes was censored in the Soviet Union". 6 January 2004. NTV. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
- The Russian Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson ссылка проверена 12 марта 2009
- «London visit of Vasily Livanov» 16th Jan 2007, Sherlock Holmes Society of London ссылка проверена 12 марта 2009
- Curious incidents: the adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Russia
- Moscow honours legendary Holmes
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