Being bombarded with advertising for a new Sherlock Holmes film I thought I’d remind myself of the greatest Holmes of all, Jeremy Brett. I have a complete collection on DVD of all the episodes produced by Granada TV between 1984 and 1994. I chose a couple at random to watch last night and it turned out that the pair included the very last one in the last series, based on the dark and disturbing story The Adventure of the Cardboard Box from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
Brett was gravely ill during the filming of the last series, largely owing to side-effects of the medication he had to take to deal with a severe depressive illness which plagued him for most of his life. It didn’t help that he had become almost obsessive about the character of Holmes, putting all his energy into doing the best possible job. It obviously took a lot out of him. He looks so much older in the last series than in the first, although it was only ten years after he made the first episodes. Jeremy Brett passed away in 1995, just a year after the last episode was filmed, but his Sherlock Holmes will live forever.
The last words spoken by Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes are in the following clip, a piece of film so poignant that I find it almost unbearable to watch.
What is the meaning of it, Watson? What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose, or our universe has no meaning, and that is unthinkable. But what purpose? That is humanity’s great problem, to which reason so far, has no answer.