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the private life of sherlock holmes…

October 1, 2006

as i’ve mentioned many times already i’m reading a bio of billy wilder… gee, i’m almost done finally…
anyway… ed sikov, the arthur of the book mentions 2 movies being billy wilder’s most personal films… the first one is “ace in the hole” with kirk douglas which i probably wrote about it already… it was a disaster at the box office and was forgotten for a long time until recently… and of course now it found its well deserved recognition from the critics and the audience…
and the other one is “the private life of sherlock holmes”…
it took billy wilder more than a decade of planning and rewriting… and as many of you would agree, sherlock holmes is one of the most known, fascinating and beloved literal characters of the last century… according to wikipedia, sherlock holmes series have sold the second largest number of copies only behind bible… however billy wilder had his own vision that holmes was a drug addict and a homosexual… some of you might think this depiction is rather perverse but if you think about it, it’s rather closer to how sir arthur conan doyle portrayed the hero… although when i read the stories as a kid in korea, there was no mention of heavy drug usage except that he used it to disguise himself as a dying man… but i’m sure other mentions were censored off…
after shooting the movie for about 10 months, spending 10 million dollars and almost driving richard stephens who played holmes into committing suicide with his demanding way, billy wilder came up with almost 3-hour long version of the movie… then the production company decided that the movie was too long, too dark and too risky… the whole thing was cut down to a little more than 2 hours… it literally broke billy wilder’s heart…
the result is still a great movie… still filled with fantastic story telling and many tender emotional moment that portrays holmes as a warm hearted man behind that sharp and even harsh exterior… someone who’s afraid to be hurt… a human…
if you haven’t seen it and a fan of sherlock holmes, you’d appreciate it… and the violin melody composed by miklós rózsa is so delicate and beautiful… a perfect choice…

we often witness that many of great artists’ visions in the past didn’t get the recognition until way later in time… just look at van gogh… he was so tormented by how the rest of the world was not able to appreciate his art and ended up killing himself… but now his art works are considered to be one of the greatest ever… we all know that many of these geniuses are way ahead of the time and it sometimes takes more that the artist’s lifetime… but now we live in such a time that we need instant gratification in almost everything we do, sometimes it feels really hard to continue creating without getting discouraged or distracted by it… not to compare myself to great artists but just as someone who’s trying to focus on what i really believe in… i keep telling myself not to lose the bigger picture in life but as many of you already know, it can get difficult… ah… guess why it’s good for me to read billy wilder’s bio… and realize that not everything he did was loved or rewarded… both of his most personal movies were literally trashed… ah…

well, it might have taken people to appreciate but “the private life of sherlock holmes” is a great, tender, emotional movie that will hold up in years to come…

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2 Comments
  1. It is so hard to maintain focus in our current climate, both creatively and even on a more general everday level. The lack of clarity and certainty in what we do is something which disheartens me everyday.But there are ways to deal with it I guess. One is to do what your doing, drawing inspiration from those you admire. Another option is to surround yourself with creatively like minded people, that way you regain focus.However, for me there is a fantastic and admirable romanticism which surrounds some those who we now deem as geniuses. Their often reclusive lives became paramount in their creative process, for their work and life resided beyond and as a critique of mainstream society. My point is that I guess a lot of those people we deem geniuses, whether artist or not, are so great because they were under-appreciated in their time. Their work was so great because its difference was a critique upon the society from which it derived.As sycophantic as this sounds, you are doing something very similar, as are so many of the artists you work with and the many great artists on Tzadik. You all represent and express something beyond the mainstream. You are the avant-garde whose very existence is, for me, a critique and commentary upon what is fed to people in the mainstream. I guess what I’m saying is that instant gratification and focus will be hard when your part of something so different, but that’s part of where your work, I believe, belongs. I guess that kind of music will never be an easy process and life to keep focus, but it is so important and beautiful that you should never be disheartened.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation. I was a huge Holmes fan as a kid, and I was always reading things like “Watson was a Woman”. I loved the recent Holmes adaptation with Rupert Everett (“The Case of the Silk Stocking”). It was another reinterpretation that goes back to all the mentions of drugs and the strange tension in the original stories instead of just copying older movie versions.

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