Tag Archives: Robert DuVall

The greatest Sherlock Holmes adaptation is not the one you’re thinking of……

Over the years there have been numerous adaptations of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. And some adaptations deserve more credit than others, and some adaptations are indeed more popular than others. But one of the older versions of the stories of Sherlock Holmes that deserves recognition is one that did not even come from the mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Based on the book by Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan), came “The Seven Percent Solution”.

Unlike many other Sherlock Holmes stories, this particular tale attempts to address one of the greatest flaws of what could arguably be called fiction’s greatest detective. His drug addiction, mostly regarding cocaine.

Alan Arkin, Robert Duvall, and Nicol Williamson in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

In the story, Holmes his addiction reaches new lows. So his colleague Dr. Watson and Holmes go to Vienna for consultation from one of his peers. The acclaimed psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud. Together, the three of them, while attempting to aid Holmes in his drug addiction. Holmes attempts to help Freud solve a mystery regarding one of his patients.

Alan Arkin and Robert Duvall in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

Right off the bat, what actually makes this movie interesting is that this is primarily a story about Sherlock Holmes himself. Where as other Sherlock Holmes stories or other person’s stories with Holmes happening to be in it. It’s one that actually attempts to further explore the motivations and personality of the hero moviegoers have known for decades.

Robert Duvall and Nicol Williamson in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

No why is this story so important? Because some of the more recent adaptations of Sherlock Holmes do not necessarily address his drug issue as a problem, and indeed a couple adaptations even show it as a superpower. Attempting to glorify the horrible things Holmes does to his body to alleviate the boredom.

Alan Arkin in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

We primarily see this in both the Robert Downey Jr. 2009 version, as well as the BBC series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. But as far as recent adaptations are concerned, the only one that ever really shows homes is addiction as a real problem, is the CBS series “Elementary” with Johnny Lee Miller in the part.

And this is a real issue that translates into today’s society. Another famous adaptation based off of Sherlock Holmes loosely, was the fictional Dr. Gregory House played by Hugh Laurie. From the TV show “House”. Showing his drug problems with an almost lightheartedness to the point where we are OK with him indulging in these narcotics. Not really issuing how much of a problem it really is.

Robert Duvall and Nicol Williamson in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

In this bold attempt to see Holmes in a new light, this story dares to go where most versions today won’t dare go.

Joe’s Random Movie Review: Mirror Images in “Falling Down” (1993)

Image result for falling down meme

Over the years after it’s release in 1993, the film “Falling Down”has gained certain popularity. In this chaotic world that we find ourselves living, audiences more and more find themselves sympathizing with Michael Douglas’s character, William Foster.

In the film, Foster a man who fired from his job building missiles to protect America from the Soviet Union, divorced and through a court order cannot visit his daughter. Decides he’s going to ignore the rules of basic society and go visit her anyway and along the way he encounters street gangs, gun violence, and various other predicaments that seem to be standing in his way. Along that time, Robert DuVall’s character Detective Martin Prendergast is slowly tracking Foster down. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of rooting for Foster because he seems to represent the everyman, but there is a great flaw in this theory. He flat out IS the bad guy. He has zero regard for anybody except for his own selfish ends.

The character Prendergast is actually much more relatable, but many people may not have much sympathy for him because this is a film were the hero is in fact the Antagonist of the film, and the villain is the Protagonist. But there are many images and subtle references to both characters as the film progresses that shows that they are mirror images of one another.

For example, in the first half of the film you’ll notice the both Foster and Prendergast dress very similarly. And as the film progresses you’ll see them both change gradually into what they both consider themselves to be. Foster who puts on the neo-Nazi’s jumpsuit almost making himself appear like a soldier. Prendergast simply puts on a suit closely resembling what he sees himself to be, which is a detective. Fitting imagery for both of them since they see themselves as both defenders of society.

The fact that both of them have families are also very similar. Foster is alienated from his family divorced and cannot see his daughter. Prendergast also has a wife and daughter. His wife has gone insane, so he feels as though he is lost her in a way. And his daughter is long since deceased the prior to the events of the film. So both men are alienated from their families.

 

There also seems to be a great lack of respect from their peers and both characters in the film. In the case of Prendergast we see that his other detectives and fellow officers do not really respect him that much and they treat him like he’s lower than them. Even though it’s obvious from the get go that Prendergast has probably been there much longer than any of the others have been.

We don’t actually see too much of Foster’s peers throughout the film, we could references in the people that Foster encounters along the way to see his daughter. From the bum who begs for change, to the two old men at the golf course that he encounters, to the man and his family that are taking care of the plastic surgeon’s house.

The special moment doesn’t even really come to mind until the final part of the movie. Which is something that a lot of fans of this film seem to take for granted. This is literally a film, where the hero and the villain do not meet one another until the very last scene.

The structure of the film this way seems to make the mirror image seem much more poignant and much more noticeable. It also makes it clear that this is the point of transformation for both men. Our protagonist, William Foster begins we can believe, as a good man who threw a set of circumstances thrown at him, has become the villain. Prendergast in reacting to Foster’s reactions to the world, has actually risen above his circumstances and actually become a hero in the process.