Between The Hound of the Baskervilles Book and Movie
The Hound of the Baskervilles originally written in 1901 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is an exhilarating novel about the investigation of the death of Sir Charles. There have been many different adaptations of the novel since then. One of these adaptations is the BBC production’s film directed by David Attwood in 2002. The film was successful in that it can be said that it accomplished its goal of entertainment. The Hound of the Baskervilles film was similar to the original novel in the aspect of the main plot elements, but it differs from the novel in the category of characters and details.
Characters of a novel or any storyline, are the parts that move the story along. By the actions, words, and thoughts of characters the author, director or the like are able to express the purpose, storyline, etc. One of the differences that the two media have is that there are a couple characters that are left out of the film. In the novel, the character of Mr. Franklin was a man who lived near the Baskerville Hall. One of Franklin’s major contributions to the plot was that he was the one who gave information about the man living on the tor, “You’ll be surprised to hear that his food is taken to him by a child,” (Doyle 173). This would lead to Watson to find Sherlock on the tor. His daughter, Laura Lyons, is a correspondent with Mr. Stapleton, “One was Mr. Stapleton, a neighbor and intimate friend of Sir Charles,” (Doyle 163). She was suspected of helping Stapleton with the murder of Sir Charles. These secondary characters, Franklin and Laura Lyons, were left out of the plot of the film. The director may have made these decisions due to their purpose. Some may justify that the characters of Laura Lyons and Franklin contributed information that would later be revealed. With the film not including these characters, it did not make a large difference to the plot and it helped the director succeed their purpose. Removing these characters lead them to entertain the audience by making the film shorter with less dialog.
Main plot ideas are important to continue the development of the entire storyline. Most of the main plot ideas of the novel were similarly represented in the film. One of the main plot points was the legend of the hound. In the novel, the legend began when Hugo Baskerville trapped a young woman in an upstairs room. “The south wall she came down from under the eaves, and so homeward across the moor,” she was able to escape while there were distractions downstairs (Doyle 14). Later that night, Hugo went after the woman. Hugo was able to kill the woman right before her dog killed him. According to legend, the ghost of the dog still hunts the Baskervilles, this is seen in this excerpt of Dr. Mortimer reading the old-world narrative, “‘Such is a tale, my sons, of the coming of the hound which is said to have plagued the family so sorely ever since,’” (Doyle 17). In the novel, Holmes sends Watson to go to Baskerville Hall with Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry while he would stay. Holmes secretly goes and lives on the moor near the Baskerville Hall. When Watson was going out to explore the man on the moor, he was expecting to find the loose criminal instead, he is surprised by Holmes. After the two meet up, there is a scream of a man passed the cliff. They go to investigate and find out that Selden has died by a dog attack. Generally, the same main events happened. Those were some of the points that stayed the same and assisted in moving along the plot.
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Although smaller details are heavily weighed in the big picture, they can lead the audience to lead to conclusions about characters, situations, etc. Smaller details that were in the novel were altered for the purpose of the film. The exposition of the novel included a detailed introduction of Dr. Mortimer to Holmes and Watson. In the exposition, Dr. Mortimer told the detectives the legend of the hound. During the first introduction, Dr. Mortimer complemented Holmes’ skull “A case of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum,” (Doyle 9). In the novel, the way Holmes and Watson were able to tell that the body was Selden and not Sir Henry was that it had a beard, “‘A beard! A beard! The man has a beard’ ‘A beard?’ ‘It is not the baronet – it is – why, it is my neighbor, the convict!” (Doyle 192). These details from the novel were altered in the film’s interpretation. In the film, the exposition did not include Dr. Mortimer meeting Holmes and Watson but the investigation of Sir Charles’ death. This was most likely changed due to the film’s purpose of entertaining. With a slow-moving start, it may be difficult to keep the audience’s attention. Considering the film’s exposition did not include the with them meeting, Dr. Mortimer was not able to compliment Holmes’ skull. In the film, Stapleton says something very similar to what Dr. Mortimer said during the Christmas party. A speculated reason why this scene placement was manipulated was due to the exposition not including the meeting scene. A reason why the quote may have been changed to Stapleton could be the director trying to further the audiences evil depiction about Stapleton. The final detail difference is that in the film the body was recognized as Selden by a mark on the hand. This allowed the audience to make conclusions about how observant Sherlock and Watson are. It shows that they were able to recognize the smaller mark rather than a large beard. It can only be inferred that the reason for the alteration could have been to lack of actors with the accurate esthetic. With altering the minor details the director was able to keep the audience’s attention and lead them to make conclusions about the different characters.
The novel and the interpretation film were similar in general plot. Parts of the original novel were missing or changed, such characters that were cut out and details that were altered in the film’s interpretation. The alterations that were made were justified under the purpose of the director. This film can be recommended for someone who has read the novel and wants to know a separate view on the novel and the important factors. In some situations, people could like the novel or the film better. It can be believed that the film interpretation well represented the general plot line and it was entertaining to the audience, even with the alterations.