The team of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is probably one of the most famous fictional detective teams to this day. One specific adventure that was encountered by the duo is told through the novel and film, The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Hound of the Baskervilles novel was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who lived from 1859-1930. He was born in Scotland but lived and worked in many places including London, Austria, and Africa before settling down in England and opening up a medical practice. The film was made and produced in 2002 by BBC. It was directed by David Attwood and stared Richard Roxburgh, Ian Hart, and Richard E. Grant. Though the film was based on the novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there are many differences in the two works. The points that I will be comparing and contrasting are the differences in the setting at the beginning of each work, the differences and similarities between the characters in both works, and how both works create and develop suspense.
The first and probably most obvious point of comparison between the film and the novel would be the difference in setting at the beginning of each. The novel begins in Mr. Sherlock Holmes’ office in London, England while the film begins in the coroners court and cuts in and out to also show scenes from the moor. The novel begins by telling us that a mysterious walking stick was left behind by an unknown visitor that they had missed. Watson and Holmes spend pages 9-12 discussing and contemplating what the writing inscribed on the stick could mean and if it could give them any clues as to who owned the stick and why they were coming to see them. After meeting Dr. Mortimer, Watson and Holmes listen to the tale of the curse of the Baskervilles. After hearing the story read by Dr. Mortimer, Watson and Holmes know what they are needed for and the mystery of the story begins to take off from there. In comparison, the film starts by showing a gruesome image of Sir Charles Baskervilles body in the morgue and then in the gloomy seeming coroners court in Devonshire.
The coroner is interviewing Dr. Mortimer about the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville. He also interviews Sir Charles’ butler, Barrymore, about what he saw and heard that night. While Barrymore is telling the court about what he saw that night, the scene cuts in and out to the night that Barrymore is explaining. Soon after that, sirens begin to sound to signal that a prisoner has escaped and shows Seldon, the escaped convict, being chased through the moor by police officers and their dogs. I believe that this give the film a better starting point because now there is a mystery surrounding Sir Charles’ death and we can’t help but wonder what the escaped convict has to do with anything. We don’t meet Holmes and Watson until the next scene when they are in some kind of a shower room, discussing where to dine that night. It isn’t until the next scene, that Holmes and Watson meet Dr. Mortimer to hear the tale of the hound and discuss coming to Devonshire.
The second point of comparison between the novel and the film would be the differences and similarities between the characters. The characters in the novel are left to your imagination to a certain point, so they seem somewhat flat. While in the film, each character has a very strong personality. In the novel, Holmes is portrayed as a very smart and witty man. The novel gives the impression that Holmes is always on top of his game in a very professional manner. But, in comparison, the film portrays him as somewhat of a drug addict. In each the film and the novel, Holmes seems very intelligent and witty but portraying him as a drug addict in the film creates a whole different side of Holmes that we didn’t get to “see” in the novel.
This makes him seem more real and human, compared to the novels portrayal of an intelligent, educated detective. There is also a difference in character with Stapleton, I believe. In the novel, I was under the impression that Stapleton was kind of a whimsy character, until the very end, of course, when we found out that he was in fact the culprit. He seemed almost childlike in the novel, but was entirely different in the film. Since we were first introduced to Stapleton in the film, he had an eerie feel to his character. His face seemed almost sinister and you could tell that he was up to no good. I believe that if I had seen the film before reading the novel, I would have suspected Stapleton early on in the story just because of the kind of character he was.
The last point of comparison that I would like to make between the novel and the film is how they both create and develop suspense. Both novels and films have to create and develop suspense, but they can’t really do it in the same exact way. The novel creates suspense by giving clues but not answering any questions completely until the end and also by creating an atmosphere with the text that gives a sense of impending doom. The film, on the other hand, has it a little easier. The film uses many suspenseful tools such as music and sound effects that create a more intense feeling when it is needed. In the novel, the author has to create and develop suspense relying entirely on his words and the feeling that they give. Another way that this novel creates suspense is by having the characters lie so that they not only deceive their fellow characters, but also you as the reader. For example, whenever Holmes tells Watson to go to Devonshire with Sir Henry, he tells him that he will stay behind and conduct his business from London but in reality, he goes to Devonshire as well.
This creates new suspense because there is a mysterious man in the moor that comes into the story every now and then. The author doesn’t let us know that he has misled us until he is ready to do so, which creates a feeling of suspense. In the film, the process of creating and developing suspense becomes a little bit easier. Music is often a tool used to create suspense in films. If you put the right kind of music in the right scene, you can make your audience feel however you want them to feel. The film can also use different tools like cutting in/out from a scene to develop suspense. For instance, at the very beginning of the film, it cuts in and out from the moor to the coroners court to create suspense.
Though the film and the novel have the same basic plot, there are still many differences that can be talked about in each work. The most apparent difference would be how each of the works starts. Another comparative point would be the differences and similarities in the characters of each work. The final point, how suspense is created in each work, is probably the most interesting. All three points of comparison made it obvious that a novel and film can have the same story, but there will always be differences in the way both works are made. This is simply because you cannot do the same things when writing a novel that you can when making a film. Both works are wonderfully made, each in their own way.