Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sherlock Holmes

Falan Fish

Because of technological advancements, special effects have come to dominate the movie world. Virtually any movie nowadays contains at least a hint of special effects, while most films bombard your senses with them. Explosions and violence and speed all combine to dominate the movie landscape. Thus, as Louis Giannetti explains in Understanding Movies, “film artists interested in F/X materials need to be just as talented as artists in any other style or genre or technology. It’s what they do with the technology artistically that counts, not the technology per se” (Giannetti 35). The artists behind Sherlock Holmes obviously understood this when creating this success.

The film contains many examples of special effects, my favorite of which is the slow motion technique used throughout the film to portray Holmes’s thought processes. The camera angles, speed, and sound effects add to its uniqueness, while the producers use it to deliberately appeal to you through ethos, pathos, and logos.

The first instance of this effect occurred very early in the movie, around the two-minute mark in fact. By presenting this technique so early on the, the producers have deliberately utilized logos to explain Sherlock Holmes. The whole movie revolves around Sherlock solving a crime. He is the main character and a genius at that. His incredible perception of minute details allows him to see things others do not. Through this scene, the movie explains his character and exhibits the inner-workings of his mind.  It only makes sense to feature this immediately where the initial characterization and first impression of his character is paramount. If the movie featured this scene in the middle once we had already seen Sherlock solving crimes, it would be completely illogical and potentially less impressive.

By the same token, these effects serve an important ethical appeal. They give us insight into Sherlock’s mind, allowing us to see the depth of his logic. Rather than just portraying him as a genius, we are allowed to glimpse how he thinks and the incredible speed at which he does so. All of this builds Sherlock’s character and credibility in our eyes. We’re not left wondering how he does everything because the movie spells it out for us. It takes the magic out of his character, and makes him more real, more human. He is more like a normal person, someone we could be (or at least try to). “Ethos creates quick and sometimes almost irresistible connections between audience and arguments,” (Lunsford 44-45) as Andrea Lunsford says in Everything’s an Argument, and this case is no different. Because we could potentially be like him and know the inner-workings of his mind, we instantly relate to him and, thus, engage more with the movie.

Additionally this also makes an appeal to pathos. The producers did this because, again, “if you strike the right emotional note [with people], you’ll establish [an] important connection” (Lunsford 33-34). Viewers are stunned the first time they witness this effect. The music and sound goes quiet. All you hear is Holmes speaking and the sound effects that go along with his actions. Not only does this odd silence draw attention to the scene, making it feel more significant, but it also mimics what we hear inside our heads. Fleeting moments in real life are drawn out in our mind as we fill them with our own personal thoughts. The obvious slow motion and change in mood combined with the subtle connections to your own experiences are meant to play upon your emotions, emotionally wow and impress you, and attach you to the movie. I specifically remember, when I first saw this in theaters, thinking, “that was so cool” after it happened. It drew me in and left me anticipating what would happen next.

All in all the instances of this effect had a specific purpose. They reinforce other aspects of the movie. In the beginning, Holmes specifically says “The little details are by far the most important,” and that is why they allow us into the world of the little details that we would have otherwise missed. It fortifies this message by “spelling it out” for the audience. In doing so, it allowed insight into Sherlock Holmes’s mind and hooked the audience. Overall, these effects enhanced the movie greatly and deserve a three-ticket rating.

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