|The Hound of the Baskervilles|
|Directed by||David Attwood|
|Written by||Allan Cubitt|
|Based on||The Hound of the Baskervilles|
by A. Conan Doyle
Richard E. Grant
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 2002 television adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1902 novel of the same name.
Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson investigate the case of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country.
Produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, this was the third adaptation of the tale for the BBC, it was shown on BBC One on Boxing Day 2002. It was directed by David Attwood, and adapted by Allan Cubitt. The film stars Richard Roxburgh as Sherlock Holmes and Ian Hart as Doctor Watson. Hart would play Watson again in the 2004 TV film Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking, also written by Cubitt. The hound was a mix of animatronics and computer generated images and was created by the same team, Crawley Creatures and Framestore, that provided the dinosaurs for Walking with Dinosaurs and The Lost World.
This version diverges from the novel in various ways, such as Sir Henry not being involved in the final attempt to entrap Stapleton, and the film being set in the time period in which the original tale was published as opposed to when it was set in the novel. Sherlock Holmes is shown to be using drugs despite having a challenging case, contrary to the standard literary depiction in which he uses cocaine recreationally only in the absence of mental exercise. Stapleton is depicted to be the anthropologist, instead of Mortimer; Stapleton's interest in entomology is omitted. The escape of the convict Selden is depicted, and later he attacks Sir Henry in Baskerville Hall. In the novel, Selden is largely only spoken of until his death. Stapleton murders his wife Beryl in this film, whereas in the novel, Beryl survives. Sir Henry is seriously mauled by the hound in the film — although he is saved in time to receive treatment — whereas in the novel, Holmes and Watson arrive in time to prevent any severe harm to Sir Henry. In the novel, Stapleton seemingly dies in the Grimpen Mire. In the movie, Stapleton is initially arrested but escapes with Holmes in pursuit. Holmes falls into the mire where Stapleton threatens him before being shot dead by Watson. The character of Dr. Mortimer's wife appears in the film; she carries out a séance. The character in a similar role appeared in the 1939 Basil Rathbone version of the film. Mr Frankland and his daughter Laura Lyons are completely omitted from the film.
In the novel, Holmes speculates on various methods that Stapleton could have used to acquire the inheritance of Baskerville Hall had his scheme for Sir Henry's death succeeded, without arousing suspicion from living so close to the Baskerville estate under an assumed name - the options included inheriting the estate after moving back to South America, adopting a disguise to deal with the necessary paperwork, or setting someone else up as the 'official' heir while receiving a sizeable income of his own. In the film, Stapleton's motives are clearly established as being based on nothing more than a personal vengeance against the family that disinherited his father, Holmes realising during his confrontation that Stapleton has no interest in the inheritance. Stapleton's real name in the film is John Baskerville. In the novel he was named Roger after his father. In the novel, Stapleton's wife Beryl was a native of Costa Rica. In the film, she appears to be British. Any reference to South America has been omitted, as is Stapleton's operating a Yorkshire school under the name Vandeleur. Roger Baskerville, instead of fleeing creditors as he did in the novel, was drummed out of the Guards for conduct unbecoming, and when penniless, married a prostitute named Mary Prescott.
The film omits a scene where a pony falls into the mire when Dr. Watson converses with Stapleton while walking. Instead the dangers of the moor are conveyed at the beginning, when Selden is chased by two policemen who drown in the mire. Cartwright, Holmes's messenger, is not mentioned in the film. In the film, the London cabman refuses to talk about his passenger, and Holmes has to force him to do so. That incident is shown in the film after Watson leaves with Sir Henry to go to Baskerville Hall but in the novel it takes place before. The legend of the hound and Hugo Baskerville is heavily changed. In the novel, Hugo was infatuated with a farmer's daughter whom he kidnapped. She escaped and Hugo pursued her. Both were found dead. She had died from fear, and Hugo was killed by the hound. In the film, Hugo instead has a wife whom he beats because of a belief that she is having an affair with a neighbour. He pursues her across the moor and kills her, but her own hound follows and kills Hugo even as he fatally stabs it, and the hound's ghost has since haunted the family.
Richard Scheib of The Science-Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review called the film "one of the best Sherlock Holmes screen adaptations to date, and arguably the best of all screen versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles that we have." Pamela Troy of CultureVulture.net wrote, "There's a lot that may outrage fans of the original novel, but this is, nonetheless, a respectful, interesting, and worthwhile adaptation." Charles Prepolec of the Sherlock Holmes fansite BakerStreetDozen.com wrote, "In the end, it is a compelling, if somewhat infuriating, film to watch. Not a great Holmes film, and certainly not the greatest version of this story, but it is fascinating television drama." The A.V. Club called the film "A very interesting, if not completely successful, adaptation."