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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Critique • Quotes • Text • Sherlock Holmes at the movies

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication

Literature form
Story collection

Crime, mystery

Writing language

Author's country

Twelve stories, approx. 94,000 words

Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes
Deep into retirement, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is investigating his own fading past in 2015 movie.

Unforgotten Sherlock

Mr. Holmes (2015): Film, 104 minutes; director Bill Condon; writers Jeffrey Hatcher; featuring Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Roger Allam, Phil Davis

Here's another sub-subgenre of Sherlock Holmes adventures on screen: imagining the detective's old age.

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote fleetingly of this period of his hero's life, several times referring to him retiring to a small farm and keeping bees. One of Doyle's stories, "His Last Bow", is said to narrate a case Holmes came out of retirement to take up. Another case, "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane", takes place during the retirement.

Several other writers have filled in gaps with new stories of Holmes with or without Watson. Among them, screenwriter Bob Shayne and mystery novelist H.R.F. Keating collaborated on the Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady miniseries, which with its sequel series, Incident at Victoria Falls, is known as The Golden Years of Sherlock Holmes.

Then there's Mitch Cullin, whose 2005 novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, is the basis for the 2015 film, Mr. Holmes.

In Mr. Holmes, the titular character has long retreated to his beekeeping as mentioned by Doyle. But now 93, the great Sherlock Holmes is struggling with his memory. In what appears to be the early stages of dementia he's trying to reconstruct the facts of his last case before retiring, a case that Watson (who is in this account only briefly) had fictionalized in his writing.

The case is not prime Sherlock material, not exactly a great criminal mystery. But tragic consequences ensue—both in the case itself and in Holmes's private life.

The official US release trailer for the charming 2015 film Mr. Holmes.

A touching script and a moving performance from the marvellous classical actor Ian McKellen (Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings)—here playing nearly two decades older than his real age—makes for a more than usually charming outing for Sherlock Holmes.

He's principally aided by American actress Laura Kinney as his rural housekeeper and by Milo Parker, in only his second film, as her young son who becomes the elderly detective's assistant. Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada features in a subplot that starts as Holmes's search for a memory-aiding plant but turns into another step in the aged detective's growth as a human being.

Mr. Holmes may not be canon Sherlock Holmes but this look into the iconic figure's old age is a welcome adjunct.

— Eric


Critique • Quotes • Text • Sherlock Holmes at the movies

1922, 1929–1933, 1931–1937, 1939–1946, 1954–1955, 1959–1984, 1962–1992, 1965, 1970, 1975–1988, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1984–1994, 2000–2002, 2002, 2002b, 2009–2011, 2010–2017, 2015