Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Holmesian Skeptism

Among the enjoyable aspects of the latest variation of Holmes is the maintaining of his skeptical and logical view. As he faces the fear of many that demonic forces are at work, he looks beyond it all to the truth. It is nice to see, as it is in the case of the Baskervilles and of the Sussex Vampire.

Another one I didn't know before now is within the 1944 film, The Scarlet Claw, with Bail Rathbone. He faces an assumed phantom out to ripe the throats of his victims.

Best is how Holmes enters the story. In Quebec, he is meeting an Occult Society. He is talked down to by the groups leader. He is seen as a skeptic. He is closed minded. He won't see the facts. Sound familiar. Holmes takes it all with humor and calm repose. He tries to make clear that he wants to just see facts, as without them there is no reason to believe the idea of the supernatural. And when he is given "proof", that a bell is known to have wrong in a given village, then the next day sheep were found murdered, he is unimpressed. In fact he deduces the events that would follow the tolling bells, heck as a lover of scary stories many of us could. He excepts that the bell did ring. He accepts the sheep were slaughtered. But how that proves the supernatural? Well? That action only confirms the true believers contentions about him.

It shows me why I have loved the character, and like this outing all the more. As Rathbone's Holmes does say, "It is elementary, my dear Watson." A skeptical Holmes is a great Holmes. We need more!

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