It's world cinema with a difference. An age old story, a classic, one that is embedded in the minds of most children and adults around the world. The tale of Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles directed by Russian director Igor Maslennikov is a lovely adaptation of a much loved piece of literature.
Released on 21st May 2012 on DVD by Mr. Bongo Films, this Russian adaptation is a version that takes you back to the original writings. While it is not stylized like the new film version of Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr., nor is it "modern" like the British TV series Sherlock, it is reminiscent of the past in its approach.
There is no doubt that this adventure of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is legendary and can withstand repeated viewing, but watching it in a foreign language (with subtitles) did bring about a new outlook to the entire proceedings. The background music, the photography, the locations, the overall feel with horse carriages and costumes seemed a bit more genuine and honest to the story (not that I dislike the new avatars).
Surprisingly enough the subtle humor and mystery doesn't die out in the adaptation either. It's all there and thoroughly enjoyable as well. I do have to admit that initially it did feel odd every time Dr. Watson introduced himself as someone from London in Russian, but then by keeping true to the story it does bring about a certain authenticity. The acting by all the characters, especially Vasili Livanov and Nikita Mihalkov, is very theatrical, although not over-the-top, and thus once again adds to the appeal of the film.
Starring Vasili Livanov (as Sherlock Holmes) and Vitali Solomin (as Dr. Watson), the story takes Sir Henry (Nikita Mihalkov), heir to the estate of the recently deceased Sir Charles Baskerville, to the countryside along with Dr. Watson while Sherlock Holmes stays back in London overlooking other matters related to the case. What follow is treachery, murder, love, heartbreak, and obviously a beast seen by a few and heard by many, the Hound of Baskerville. In short, it's typical extraordinary storytelling by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle full of suspense, mystery, eccentric characters, and that pipe smoking, deerstalker hat wearing detective par excellence, Sherlock.
Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of Baskervilles is cinema at its nostalgic best. If you are a Sherlockian then you will surely appreciate this adaptation, especially the moment when Sherlock makes his appearance for the first time half an hour into the film. If you love mystery and haven't read the books, give the film a try before watching any of the other adaptations and let it take you back to the original writings. If you love films in general, you will positively enjoy this world cinema-esq approach to the tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Rating 4/5 Stars for Authenticity, Acting, Nostalgia, and well I can never have enough of Sherlock Holmes.