Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character is getting a lot of attention lately. He’s been put on the silver screen by Guy Ritchie, and on TV by both the BBC in Sherlock and CBS in Elementary. But, many ardent Holmes fans say that the best moving picture adaptations of the stories were made two decades ago by Russian production company Lenfilm.
Russian television producers made five films between 1979 and 1986. These were broken down into 11 episodes for television. Each movie contains a number of the short stories woven together, but the action within each story is exceptionally loyal to the books. For instance, the first film, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, includes the stories The Adventure of the Speckled Band and A Study in Scarlet with a scene from The Sign of Four at the beginning of the second part.
The series is praised for its high production values, and the accomplishment of loyally reproducing Victorian London in Soviet Era Russia. While the buildings in outdoor scenes are often more ornate and Eastern looking that what you would have seen in London, many fans feel that this gives the series a unique and charming touch.
While many fans complain that the 5 film series is just not enough, there is reason to take hope. Sherlock Holmes is expected to return to Russian TV screens soon; a new series was announced in 2009, and filming was completed in May of 2012.
The entire Lenfilm series is available with subtitles on DVD. This is a great, and enjoyable, way to brush up on your Russian. You can see the trailer for the first movie below: