Several years ago the Q&A site Ask Jeeves commissioned a survey of 1000 Britons and found that more than 20% of them believed that Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant sleuth created by Arthur Conan Doyle, was a real person. With that in mind, what better way to confuse even more people by creating a Sherlock Holmes film that looks like a biopic?
Upcoming drama Mr. Holmes stars Ian McKellen as a very old and retired version of Sherlock Holmes, looking back upon a time when he was still quite old but not yet retired. The film is set in an alternative universe where the Sherlock Holmes mysteries still existed and were widely read, but were actually penned by John Watson and were based on true stories.
As Sherlock explains in the latest trailer for Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson was very prone to embellishment and as a result the Sherlock Holmes that the adoring fans think they know is actually quite a far cry from the real version. As he settles down to spend the latter end of his life studying bees, Sherlock returns to his final, unsolved case and decides to try and solve it with the help of inquisitive youngster Roger (Milo Parker).
Condon is no stranger to telling stories that blur the lines between truth and fiction. His 1998 film Gods and Monsters, for example, starred McKellen in the role of Frankenstein director James Whale, and depicted a fictionalized account of his relationship with a handsome young gardener. Condon has since directed biopics about sexologist Alfred Kinsey and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. He also directed two installments of The Twilight Saga, but we won’t hold that against him.
Fans of Doyle’s writing haven’t exactly been left wanting for Sherlock Holmes stories over the past few years, with two current TV series and a film franchise dedicated to portraying the genius detective. Of course, Sherlock, Elementary and Guy Ritchie’s films focus on Holmes in the days when he was young and sexy, so it’s refreshing to see a version of the character who’s much older (though still sexy, obviously).
Mr. Holmes is in theaters on July 17, 2015.