How Sherlock Holmes (2009) Has Been Reappropriated to Suit a Modern Audience

The film, ‘Sherlock Holmes’ (2009), directed by Guy Ritchie, is a successful appropriation of the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson as they appear in Arthur Conan Doyle’s novellas ‘A Study in Scarlet’ and ‘The Sign of Four’. It is successful because it re-invents these characters so that they are accessible and relevant to a modern audience. The plot in Ritchie’s film is completely different from those in the two novellas but the presentation of the characters is similar in the most important aspects.
Conan Doyle’s novellas were written and set in the Victorian Era where culture and values were very different from todays. In this era, novels and other written texts were the most popular mediums produced by composers. Society of that time was infatuated with science and the idea of a hero who could solve crimes with reasoning and cleverness had great appeal. This made Conan Doyle’s writings a part of popular culture at the time. Today these texts are regarded as ‘high culture’. This is because of the dated language and values have made them not as accessible today as they once were.
There have been several appropriations of Conan Doyle’s novellas into film over the years as film has become the most popular medium in popular culture. Holmes character has been reappropriated over and over because of its popularity. It has been constantly changed or re-energised to comply with the popular culture of the time.

In the film, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, there have been several changes to the character of Sherlock Holmes from the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle to better appropriate him to a modern audience. In the film Holmes has a much better attitude towards women compared to the previous works. This is presented through his relationship with Irene Adler. Irene is a world class criminal who was said to be the only person ever to beat Holmes. This is a change from the novels where Sherlock was shown to be infallible. Irene Adler is an example of how the rise...