Sherlock Holmes Directed By Guy Ritchie [2009]

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Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England.
Tagline: Mark Strong is Blackwood
- Nothing Escapes Him
- Dangerously Alluring
- Depraved Adversary
- Holmes for the Holiday.
- Robert Downey Jr. is Holmes
- Jude Law is Watson
- Rachel McAdams is Adler

Runtime: 128 min.

Storyline: Storyline

After finally catching serial killer and occult "sorcerer" Lord Blackwood, legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson can close yet another successful case. But when Blackwood mysteriously returns from the grave and resumes his killing spree, Holmes must take up the hunt once again. Contending with his partner's new fiancée and the dimwitted head of Scotland Yard, the dauntless detective must unravel the clues that will lead him into a twisted web of murder, deceit, and black magic - and the deadly embrace of temptress Irene Adler.
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GOOFS: Anachronisms:

- In the scene following Holmes' leap from the House of Parliament, a statue of Queen Boudicca can be seen at the end of Westminster Bridge. The statue was erected in 1902, 8 years after the opening of Tower Bridge, which is partially built in the film.

- Characters refer to radio waves. The term "radio" was first used as a noun in 1907.

- One shot of the Clocktower of the Palace of Westminster (commonly known as Big Ben) shows Portcullis House, the UK MP's offices, with its distinctive chimney stacks, to the right. Portcullis House was built in 2001.

- Modern, bright red cranes appear in several background shots.

- Early in the film, Holmes reads a Daily Graphic dated 13 November 1890. The front page features a report of Blackwood's impending execution, accompanied by photographs of Blackwood, Holmes, and Watson. The Daily Graphic was the first newspaper to print a halftone photograph, but it started in 1891.

- In many scenes, Sherlock Holmes wears a shirt with an attached collar. That was introduced by Van Huesen in 1929.

- When Sherlock Holmes is experimenting with the effects of music on flies, he mentions that the flies fly in an organized fashion when he plays "atonal" clusters. "Atonal" music was first written around 1908, by composer Arnold Schönberg.

- Just prior to his hanging, Blackwood is told he has been sentenced to death for "the practice of black magic". British law has not recognized magical acts since the Witchcraft Act of 1735. The only prosecutions have been against those who commit fraud by pretending to cast spells.

- In the beginning, Holmes tests the revolver silencer. His gun is an 1895 Nagant revolver, with the Soviet Tula arsenal mark (hammer inside the star) and 1941 (the year of manufacture) below it.

- Holmes describes his opponent's wild punch in the bare-knuckle fight as a "haymaker." The earliest recorded use of "haymaker" as a fighting term comes from the National Police Gazette in 1906. "One of those ... fellows is going to get the 'haymaker' over on your jaw." (Source:

- Holmes describes the devices used to kill one of the villain's opponents and torch the abattoir as "employing a flammable substance." "Flammable" entered the language in the early 20th century, as a disambiguation of "inflammable," which means the same thing, but was mistaken for its antonym, "non-flammable." For safety reasons, it became preferable to use "flammable" when giving warnings about combustibility.

- During Irene's first conversation with Holmes, she says she brought dates from Jordan. The country of Transjordan was established in 1921; the name changed to Jordan in 1949.

- Watson uses a streamlined, mercury-filled sphygmomanometer to take the Colonel's blood pressure. The instrument wasn't widely available, or widely used, until 1901.

- When Holmes and Watson are in jail, close-ups of Jude Law reveal a hearing aid in his left ear.

- SPOILER: Lord Blackwood is on Death Row (and presumably hanged) at H.M.P. Pentonville. London's death row was at H.M.P. Newgate until 1902.

GOOFS: Continuity

- During the bare-knuckle fight scene, Holmes is clearly tanned. When he is shackled to Adler's bedposts, his body is not tanned.

- When Holmes, Watson, and Irene are in the attic and Holmes is explaining the crime, Irene kneels to the ground to put a candle down to flatten out the map. In the next shot, she puts the candle on the map again.

- When Irene is running across the rooftops with the gas tanks, she holds each chamber in different hands. When Lord Blackwood takes the device, both pieces are together, obviously welded.

- When Holmes and Watson are taken to Lord Blackwood's slaughter house, they both jump from the Lucy into the shallow water near shore and make their way to the building. In the very next scene, their clothes are dry.

- During Adler's first fight scene, a handkerchief is on the ledge. Holmes goes to look for the owner, is punched, spins around, and falls to the ground. The handkerchief is missing. When he stands back up, the handkerchief is back.

- During the fight on the bridge, Holmes uses a net to hurl away from Lord Blackwood. In the next shot, the net disappears.

- At the beginning, one establishing shot of London that includes a fully-built Tower Bridge. Later, during the big fight scene, it is only half-built.

- In slow motion, Holmes demonstrates that he will dislocate the large man's jaw with his left elbow. The move is missing during the real-time fight sequence.

- When Holmes performs the magic ritual he cuts his fingers on a sharp knife to drip blood in middle of the circle. The next morning when talking to Watson and Irene, there is no sign of trauma to either of his thumbs.

- In the first overhead shot of street traffic, vehicles are driving on the right. The rest of the traffic shots show them driving on the left.

- During the bare-knuckle fight scene, Holmes gets a cut on his left lower lip. There is blood from it on his shirt when Watson comes to get him to meet Lord Blackwood before the execution. In the next scene, when Holmes and Watson are on their way to the prison, there is no sign of the cut on Holmes lip. Yet it is clearly visible in the prison scene that follows.

- The first few shots of the cemetery, where Blackwood was buried, were shot at a different time than the subsequent shots. Initially, the shadows are almost parallel to the length of the road. In later shots, they're at an acute angle.

- In the slaughterhouse scene as Holmes and Watson free Irene before she is sliced by the band saw, clearly she is shown being saved by Holmes' quick hand. In the very next shot it shows Watson pulling her up and Irene thanks Watson for saving her.

- Continuity: At the end during the fight scene, Lord Blackwood knocks Irene off the platform. There's nothing below her (you can see the water and boats). Later she's shown to be lying on another platform with her legs at odd angles.

- SPOILER: Towards the end of the film when Irene and Sherlock are together on the some sort of platform along the rooftops, there is no visual on the necklace being worn by Irene. Yet on the next shot when Sherlock rips off the necklace, she is suddenly seen wearing the necklace.

GOOFS: Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers):

- Ambassador Standish is referred to as the American ambassador to the United Kingdom and the English Ambassador to America. Based on his accent, he is clearly the former.

- Mary Morstan, Watson's fiancée, says she is a fan of detective novels, including those by Poe. Edgar Allan Poe wrote short detective stories, not novels.

- At the end of the restaurant scene, in which Holmes analyzes Mary, who leaves in disgust, Holmes uses a knife and fork to cut up and eat his meal. He holds the fork vertically between thumb and index finger, American-style.

- Holmes sniffs a bottle of an unknown chemical by sticking his nose in an taking a deep whiff. The safe way to smell chemicals, which has been practiced for over 200 years, is to use the hand to gently waft the fumes towards the nose. As a man with some background in chemistry, Holmes would surely have known that.

- During the opening titles we see the front page of the Illustrated Paper. The sub-heading of the headline story reads

'Sherlock Holmes Aides Police' instead of 'Sherlock Holmes Aids Police'.

- In the first scene, Sherlock Holmes tells Watson "It is ten o'clock." The clock on the wall says eight o'clock.

- When Blackwood talks to Ambassador Standish at the secret society meeting, he says America has been weakened by its recent Civil War. The Civil War ended in 1865, and the Reconstruction was over by 1877, so by 1891 when the film takes place, America was hardly in a weakened state.

- Holmes says Sir Thomas Rotheram is the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. That makes him a peer, so his title would be "Lord", not "Sir", which signifies knighthood.


Incorrectly regarded as goofs: In the slaughterhouse, the dead pigs are transported straight from the flaming to the band saw. When the band saw cuts them apart, the pigs are hollow, with no internal organs. However, near the end of the movie during Holmes' elaborate explanation of the conjuring tricks, he explains that the stomachs of the pigs were the experimental subjects of a cyanide poison. It is possible the pigs were cut open or the organs were dissolved in the experiments.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: When the camera flips over during the chase of the big man, the modern symbol for 'this way up' appears on a packing crate. Even so, this is clearly a joke by the filmmakers, as the crate is shown to be wrong way up.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: In the film, 221b Baker Street has 3 steps to the front door. Modern-day 221b Baker St. has a street-level entrance. In 'Arthur Conan Doyle''s day, the address was fictional, and thus has no "real" representation.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: Although Sherlock Holmes refers to the book of Revelation as "Revelations", it is noted by Watson in the 'Arthur Conan Doyle' novel "A Study in Scarlet" that Holmes' knowledge was limited to what he found relevant to his detective work, and in fact that he had very little knowledge of literature or philosophy.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: When Dredger meets Holmes for the second time, he quips "Tu m'as manqué?", which can mean "I felt your absence" or "you didn't hit me". In this situation, "Tu m'as manqué" is a perfect translation for "you missed me".

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: In 1891, the statue of Eros (a.k.a. Anteros) in Piccadilly Circus pointed southwest, towards parliament. It changed direction, pointing toward Shaftesbury Avenue, sometime after 1896.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: In Reordan's laboratory, Holmes says he smells candy floss. Candy floss (a.k.a. cotton candy) wasn't available to the general public until 1904, but it was invented in the mid-18th century. Holmes was often employed by wealthy people, so he could've had it before.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: SPOILER: Even though Sherlock Holmes did not witness Standish's murder, he was still able to describe it presumably because Inspector Lestrade, who was both a member of the secret society and also held Holmes in his confidence, related what he had heard of the event through his secret channels.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: SPOILER: Holmes says Blackwood faked his death using an extraction from a flower which is "quite infamous in the region of Turkey bordering the Black Sea for its ability to induce an apparently mortal paralysis." The modern Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923. However, in the 19th century, Westerners commonly called the Ottoman Empire "Turkey" and all of its inhabitants "Turks", even those that weren't ethnic Turks.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: SPOILER: Although it is widely believed that British Peers (such as Lord Blackwood) were hung with silk ropes rather than hemp, this is likely a popular myth. The last Peer to be executed in England was Earl Ferrers in 1760. There is no evidence that he was hung with a silk rope, and nothing in law or practice suggests this would be the case over 150 years later.

Revealing mistakes: When fighting the large man with the hammer at the boat dock, Holmes stumbles over one of the very large dock chains and moves it several inches, revealing it to be made of a lightweight material instead of iron.

Revealing mistakes: SPOILER: Blackwood's dead father blinks his eyes in the bathtub.

Errors in geography: When Irene escapes from the sewers beneath Parliament with the poison, she emerges at Tower Bridge, about two and a half miles away, within 30 seconds.

Errors in geography: A boat slips into the Thames and sinks stern first, with the bow in the air. The Thames is very shallow at that point

Errors in geography: Irene Adler is staying at the Grand Hotel, which is shown as being in Piccadilly Circus. It was actually in Trafalgar Square.

Errors in geography: The wide shot showing the streets of London shows two barouches driving on the right side of the road. In the UK, traffic travels on the left side.

Errors in geography: SPOILER: Lord Blackwood's execution is done American-style. In Britain, the hood placed over the condemned's head was white, not black. The rope was not the coiled noose of western movies; it passed through a simple eyelet.

Crew or equipment visible: Studio lights reflected in some of the cutlery during the restaurant scene.

Factual errors: The date on the newspaper Holmes is holding after he was bailed from jail is Friday, November 19, 1891. November 19th was actually on a Thursday that year.

Factual errors: The scene in the House of Lords shows a very large chamber, with lots of people, many standing behind the Lord Speaker on the Floor of the House, talking to each other until Lord Coward, the Home Secretary calls for their attention. In reality, the Lords' Chamber is fairly small. Peers must sit on their respective benches; they are not allowed to stand on the Floor of the House. The Speaker calls the House to order, not individual peers. In fact, as a government minister, Lord Coward would normally address the Lords from the government dispatch box, which can be seen on the Table of the House. Incidentally, the Table itself is incorrectly placed in front of the Lord Speaker. It should have been placed further down, with the Law Lords sitting between the Lord Speaker and the Table.

Factual errors: The movie continues the common mistake of identifying Holmes' house as 221B Baker St. The house should be 221; "B" refers to the fact that Holmes lives on the upper floor. Mrs. Hudson lives at 221A Baker St.

Plot holes: SPOILER: Lord Blackwood was executed by hanging, yet when Dr. Watson declared Blackwood dead, there were no bruises, ligature marks on the neck, or dislocation of the cervical vertebrae. Absence of these traumas from hanging should have aroused Watson's suspicion.

Robert Maillet accidentally knocked out Robert Downey Jr. while filming a fight scene.

Robert Downey Jr. read many Sherlock Holmes stories and watched "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (1984) by Granada Television (starring Jeremy Brett) in order to learn more about the character.

The song that plays from 1:03 to the end on the second trailer is a piece called "Unstoppable" by the group E.S. Posthumus (specifically 1:47 to the end on the track).

The set for Sherlock Holmes's home in this film was previously used as Sirius Black's home in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007).

Guy Ritchie's first film not to be Rated R in the US.

Watson's line to Holmes, "You know that what you're drinking is for eye surgery," is an obscure reference to Holmes's cocaine usage. At the time, cocaine was used as a topical anesthetic for eye surgery. In the stories, Holmes injects cocaine.

Although Irene Adler plays a large role in the movie, she only appears in one Sir 'Arthur Conan Doyle' story, "A Scandal in Bohemia", briefly referenced in the movie.

The story The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual mentions that Holmes practiced shooting his pistol by putting VR (Victoria Regina) on his wall with bullet holes. In the movie, Holmes shoots VR in the wall in his room with a gun.

The four symbols referred to in the movie, the Man, the Lion, the Ox and the Eagle, are also attributed to the four Gospels of the Christian Bible: Matthew (Man, the humanity of Christ), Mark (Lion, for courage and for action), Luke (Ox, for strength and perseverance), and John (Eagle, for clarity of sight and for divinity).

Before the scene where Sherlock Holmes reenacts the black magic ceremony, we see a brief shot of an Inn called The Punch Bowl. The Punch Bowl is the name of Guy Ritchie's pub in Mayfair, London.

In the stories, Holmes is described to be an expert in Baritsu. In the film however, the martial art that Holmes used is the Wing-Chun Kung Fu (famously used by Ip Man and Bruce Lee). Robert Downey Jr. is a practitioner of the art in real-life and the fight scene between him and David Garrick at Punchbowl Pit was coordinated with the help of his trainer.

The line "Never theorize before you have data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." which Holmes delivers to Watson when they are searching for the red-headed midget is a direct reference to the 'Arthur Conan Doyle' short story "A Scandal In Bohemia" , where the quote reads as "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist the facts to suit theories , instead of theories to suit facts." The short story also happens to feature Irene Adler, a character that is included in the movie.

Other quotes that have been taken directly from Conan Doyle stories and placed into the script:
"It makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely." - The Boscombe Valley Mystery
"You have the grand gift of silence , Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion." - The Man With The Twisted Lip
"Crime is common. Logic is rare." - The Adventure of The Copper Beeches
"Data , data , data. I cannot make bricks without clay." - The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

SPOILER: The three murders of the men and the attempted murder of Parliament coincide with the four Greek elements. The first was a burial crime scene (Earth), second was drowning (water), third was immolation (fire), and fourth was poison gas (air).

SPOILER: Guy Ritchie has stated in interviews that he is a fan of (and a practitioner) Brazilian Jujitsu, made popular in mixed martial arts. Towards the end of the movie Holmes and Watson fight Dredger and finally manage to subdue him with an arm-bar and a modified rear naked choke, both popular Brazilian Jujitsu submissions.

SPOILER: All events take place in the year 1891. After Holmes and Watson are released from custody following the events in the shipyard, Inspector Lestrade hands a newspaper ("The National Police Gazette") over to Holmes. The title on the newspaper is "LONDON IN TERROR", and the date is Friday, November 19, 1891. This sets the story during the period which, in the original Sir 'Arthur Conan Doyle' stories, Holmes was believed dead. According to "The Final Problem," Holmes and Professor Moriarty apparently plunged to their deaths over the Reichenbach Falls in May 1891. Holmes did not reveal he had survived until the spring of 1894, as described in "The Adventure of the Empty House."

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material.


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