Saturday, November 13, 2010

Absence of Colonial Elements in Sherlock Holmes by Guy Ritchie

Got the chance to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie by Guy Ritchie a few days ago. It was pretty much what I expected – not my cup of tea. Part of the allure of reading or watching Sherlock Holmes is to relieve that prim and proper world of the British Raj. I know it annoys some people. But I enjoy it. So there.

But I was quite surprised to see the complete absence of any colonial elements in Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. This is doubly surprising that much has been made of a post-colonial reading of the canon. The only ‘colony’ mentioned in the film is America and while there is some talk of rebuilding the British Empire, it’s amusing that the way to do it is to conquer the new world.

So is Ritchie staying away from the colonies to keep the movie in that comfortable territory where no one can accuse him of being a racist etc. (cf. reactions to Frank Miller’s 300)?

Or is he completely trying to deny that the colonies existed and that they had a role to play in the establishment of the British Empire?

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. When I was doing my comprehensive exam in English li., I organized my entire response in terms of what would happen to the entire canon of English literature if the colonies werent there to ship off undesired characters, get riches from, get a myriad of influences, etc. My professor - who was from India - responded that anybody who approaches these works without an understanding of a constant presence of the colonies in them has no understanding of this literature at all.