Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

Steampunk has an interesting way of encouraging people to look back to the past and find old, forgotten things that still spark their modern interest and sensibilities. Back in the Victorian times, there was a martial art known as Bartitsu that employed the use of canes and parasols as part of a larger form of self-defense. Though it was largely forgotten since the Victorian era, the interest in Steampunk has also fueled an interest in this once dormant martial art form.

If you happen to be interested in this history of this unique and decidedly Victorian martial art form, you can get a basic history of Bartitsu by checking out this documentary: Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes.

A little pricy, but it seems to be an interesting piece. All my readers with an interest in history will almost certainly enjoy this piece, and perhaps it’ll encourage a few of you to look more into Bartitsu. Hope you enjoy it!

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The recent Sherlock Holmes film staring Robert Downey Jr. as the world’s most famous detective attracted a rather fierce Steampunk following. It’s subtle undertones of impossible technology matched with one of our favorite fictional characters from the Victorian era made it an easy sells to retro-futurists. Paired with the fact that it actually was a rather good movie with some interesting interpretations of the detective and a respectable amount of homage paid to Doyle’s source material made it a film worth seeing and unabashedly enjoying.

The sequel to the first Holmes movie has been whispered about for some time, and, thankfully, it’s finally starting to pop up every now and again. A few days ago, the trailer for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was released. Check it out here:

I can only hope that this one turns out to be as good as the first film. I’ll definitely be seeing it when it hits theaters in December.

Slightly Steampunk: Sherlock

With the success of the 2009 Slightly Steampunk Sherlock Holmes film with Robert Downy Jr. in the title role, it should come as no surprise that a number of Holmesian spinoffs have popped up in the last year or so.

The topic of tonight’s post is an especially outstanding result of this recent infatuation with the great detective, and while in no way Steampunk in its presentation, the source material is so fondly regarded by Steampunks themselves that I felt the production deserved some acknowledgment here.

PBS and the BBC’s retelling of the adventures of the great detective in a modern setting is a far cry from the Victorian England that we Steampunks love to revise, but because this is Sherlock Holmes, it’s sure to capture the interest of the Steampunk community. Thankfully, this newest incarnation of Holmes is blends enough of the new and the old to draw in old fans and still keep them entertained.

On 9 November 2010, all three 90 minute episodes were released to DVD, which you can purchase here. And for those of you who enjoyed Episode One of this series, you’ll be very glad to know that a sequel is already in the mix.

The Trial of Sherlock Holmes

After the long and drawn out affair that was Android Karenina, I needed something a bit more fast paced to enjoy. My attentions quickly turned to The Trial of Sherlock Holmes, a new graphic novel written by Leah Moore, the daughter of Alan Moore, and and John Reppion and illustrated by Aaron Campbell.

The Trial of Sherlock Holmes is a new Holmesian mystery, not a retelling of a Doyle original. It’s a classic locked room case where the only suspect seems to be Sherlock Holmes himself! Dun dun, DUN!

This was a fast paced and entertaining read as Holmes seeks to clear his name despite looming suspicion under the backdrop of visiting foreign royalty and a bomb threat sending terror through the streets of London.

I especially appreciated that this graphic novel presented an original Holmes story. It’s quite the challenge to create a mystery worthy of the great Sherlock Holmes, and I think Leah Moore and John Reppion have proven that they are up to the task. The illustrations are beautifully executed and realistically colored.  Though The Trial of Sherlock Holmes has no elements to make this graphic novel an expressly Steampunk work, the setting is correct, and really it’s Sherlock Holmes, which makes it instantaneously interesting to Steampunks.

The book is packed full of goodies after the graphic novel’s story is complete. The bonus materials  include a panel-by-panel discussion of Chapter 1, “A Smoking Gun,” essays on Sherlock Holmes, and one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot.”

If you or someone you love is a Sherlock Holmes affectionado, I enthusiastically recommend this graphic novel. I’m sure you will be pleased with your investment.

Slightly Steampunk: Sherlock Holmes

Today is the release day for the new Sherlock Holmes movie! I picked up my copy on my way home from work today. If you are looking for some great weekend entertainment, this is a great film to rent or purchase.

The DVD pictured above is actually not the edition I purchased. There’s a special edition being sold at Target that has a graphic novel and bonus DVD material that I bought. Because I already know I love the film, it was well worth the extra five bucks to me. The cover of it looks very similar to this movie poster:

Click on the picture above to head to the film’s website. I hope you all enjoy the film; just be sure to check your expectations for it to be anything like the source material at the beginning of the movie, and I feel you will at the very least be entertained.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes… on Hulu!

Ladies and gentlemen, the weekend has descended upon us once again! I hope it finds you enjoyably awash in free time.

While I was scouring Hulu last week for The Island of Doctor Moreau film, I came upon a wonderful collection of TV episodes of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from 1954-1955 staring Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes, and Howard Marion-Crawford as Dr. Watson.

These episodes, just like The Island of Doctor Moreau, take considerable liberties with the source material by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But they are at the very least entertaining and engaging.

A working understanding of Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work is important for every self respecting Steampunk not because of any strong influence on Steampunk, but rather because Holmes embodies so much of the deviant thinking in which we Steampunks take pride. Steampunks look at the seemingly impossible fusion between Victoriana and the modern world and meld it into a natural and simple conclusion in the shape of a sub-culture. It takes a broad mind with a palette for contradictions to enjoy a sub-culture that promotes an artistic turn back to Victorian times while simultaneously engendering themes of rebellion and belief in human potential.

It also helps the aspiring Steampunk to have a respectable knowledge of oft-cited literature in communication with other Steampunks, and one can be sure that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective will not be omitted from all conversations!

So watch an episode or two! These should help ease the wait for the new Sherlock Holmes film to come out on DVD on March 30!

Sherlock Holmes DVD Release Date Announced

Ladies and gentlemen, I have some wonderful information to announce regarding the recently released to theaters Sherlock Holmes, which stars Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes.

The DVD and Blu-Ray are set to release on March 30, 2010. I’m surprised by the early release date; it’s common for winter films to wait until the summer to be available for purchase, but I’m nevertheless thrilled by the announcement. Less time for me to wait before Sherlock’s brilliance is only a DVD player away.

If you haven’t seen the movie, you absolutely must. Just don’t expect it to be anything particularly similar to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterworks. If you drop this expectation going in to the film, I think you will truly enjoy it. I particularly enjoyed the relationship dynamic (or perhaps, dysfunction) between Holmes and Watson. I won’t lie, their witty exchanges made me giggle incessantly… And thank goodness this Watson isn’t the fat and bumbling sidekick like the Watson of old films, he’s actually an interesting character himself in this recreation. There’s even a little Steampunk tech involved, though I can’t go into to much detail…

You can see the trailer by clicking on the picture above, which will take you to the film’s website, or you can simply view it here: