Friday, January 20, 2012

Russian Sherlock Holmes

Between 1979 and 1986, Russia's Lenfilm Studios produced a series of television films based on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. As with the BBC's popular contemporary series "Sherlock," each episode combined elements from several of Conan Doyle's original stories, though care was taken to preserve the spirit of of the material. Though not strictly canonical, the series is a favorite among fans and is regarded as one of best and most interesting adaptations of Holmes's adventures, rendered all the more authentic by Lenfilm's meticulous recreation of Victorian England.

Lenfilm's "Sherlock Holmes" was the most popular series in the history of Soviet television, and starred Vasily Livanov as the legendary consulting detective and Vitaly Solomin as his redoubtable sidekick, Dr. Watson--a role for which Solomin has been universally praised as one of the most authentic and amusing of all Dr. Watsons.

Many consider Livanov's Holmes to be one of the finest interpretations of Conan Doyle's eccentric hero. Aficionados have noted that of all the actors to have played the part, it is Livanov who most closely resembles the famous Sydney Paget drawings that accompanied Conan Doyle's original stories in Strand magazine between 1891-1892.

Livanov's performance as Holmes was so highly regarded in England that on February 20, 2006, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Livanov an honorary Commandership in the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) "for service to the theatre and performing arts"--a rare honor for a non-British citizen...


Arun said...

Great post about the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes !

I am a huge fan of Vasily Livanov and he is my Definitive Sherlock Holmes :)

Katterfelto said...

Thank you, buddy2blogger! Much as I like Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, and the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch, there is a special place in my heart for Vasily Livanov. Not only is he a dead ringer for Sydney Paget, his kinder, more gracious interpretation of Holmes is particularly endearing. He brought a unique soulfulness to role that Conan Doyle clearly intended, but which has been generally overlooked in other interpretations. His was one of the most complex, heroic, and human portrayals of Sherlock Holmes in all of film and television. He was one of the best.