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Lack of Suspense?

by John Paul Henderson

In this sequence from Sherlock Holmes, we are shown a sequence that has not happened yet, but will happen shortly.  We watch the sequence in slow motion and then in real time.  In the world of cinema this seems to be a complete contradiction of the story telling structure.  When and why would you ever show the audience what is going to happen and then watch the exact same sequence?  In this movie the technique works very well, especially the first time we see the technique.  The first time we see what is going to happen it is in slow motion and we are able to see every detail and analyze exactly what is happening.  When the real time sequence begins to happen we wonder if he, Sherlock Holmes, is going to be able to pull off exactly what he has planned.  When the real time sequence ends we do see that his plan is executed perfectly.  This does not hinder the story in fact it confirms and solidifies the characters calculating and genius planning and forethought.  With other types of movies with different characters I do not believe this technique would be as effective, in fact it would be boring.  After the first time we see this technique we know that it is going to work to his advantage yet we still wonder each time we watch if human error will ever take over.  This is what holds us in suspense.

John Paul Henderson

Sherlock Holmes timeslice

Filed under:

Temporal experimentation in Sherlock Holmes

from Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Creator: Guy Ritchie
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Posted by Critical Commons Manager