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Reimagining a Fictional Hero through Adaptation: Mr. Holmes and the Humanisation of the Great Detective By Bonnie van den Bergh

A stern and authoritative looking Sir Ian McKellen graces the official poster of the 2015 film Mr. Holmes, in which he portrays the world-famous sleuth. Smartly dressed and with a focused gaze it is not hard to imagine McKellen as a detective. After all, many detective figures known from TV and film seem to adhere to these outward characteristics. However, it might be questioned whether we would have recognised McKellen as Holmes, had the title not given it away. As one of the most iconic fictional characters, Holmes has been visualised very distinctly since he was first drawn by Sidney Paget for the original publications of Doyle’s stories in the Strand Magazine. InMr. Holmes, the iconic look of the detective is challenged. The film, which vows to investigate “the man beyond the myth”, delivers a wildly different Holmes than most viewers are used to.[1] Looking at the more personal side of this famous character, the film tackles the fictionality of Sherlock Holmes ‘the icon’. The visual representation of Holmes plays a big part in this. Shying away from the iconography which has come to exist in our collective consciousness, Mr. Holmes becomes a powerful tool for rewriting our perceptions of one of the most recognisable figures of fiction.

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