Friday, September 5, 2014

Editing & Cinematography in BBC's Sherlock

I will begin this post by saying that if you have not yet experienced the awesomeness that is BBC's modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books, then stop what you are doing and go watch it. I will wait. No, I'm serious go check it out, it's on Netflix.

Now, I could sit here all day and talk to you about how amazing this mini-series is. I could tell you how incredible the acting is, or how I could even tell you that the last installment just won seven Emmys. But I think the quality of this series speaks for itself. One of the most impressive things about this series is the way the cinematography and editing is utilized.

If you don't know anything about Sherlock Holmes (which would be weird, because he's the most famous fictional character of all time), then you know that he is a genius detective who solves cases by picking up on things that no one else can. In past portrayals Sherlock would look around a crime scene before suddenly declaring what it was that everyone else was missing. In BBC's adaptation they actually show you Sherlock's thoughts as he is solving the case in his head, and they do it through clever editing and cinematography

As Sherlock thinks or makes deductions, we as viewers can see his thoughts through carefully placed text. This way the audience can feel as though they are solving the case along with him, instead of just watching him do it. This is also more interesting visually then just having the actor do a voice over. Not only that, but it makes Sherlock's genius more believable. The audience is more willing to believe that Sherlock can come to these conclusions if they can physically see him work them out.

It was also even used for comic relief when Sherlock tried to solve a case while drunk. This made for some pretty amusing deductions. 

They also use a similar technique to show Sherlock's "Mind Palace".

This is a memory technique where one visualizes a location (in Sherlock's case a palace), with different rooms and stores different information in those rooms. Then when they need to remember something, they simply have to visualize the place where it was stored. Sherlock uses his Mind Palace to store all sorts of important information he might need to solve crimes.

The creators of the show used the cinematography and editing to show the way Sherlock interacts with his Mind Palace, much they way they did to show how he thinks.

There are even entire sequences that take place inside Sherlock's Mind Palace. In these scenes, lighting is used dramatically to show Sherlock's state of mind. One particular scene, when Sherlock was injured and unconscious, the lighting is bright and blindingly white as his body goes into shock. In the same is sequence clever camera angles were used, the camera pointed downward at the top of a long spiraling staircase as Sherlock struggles to climb up them and back to consciousness. 

Basically, everything about the way this show is constructed is extremely clever, much like it's hero. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

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