Holmes Under The Hammer

Discuss the ways in which the extract constructs the representation of disability/ability using  the following: camera angles,shots movement and composition; editing, sound Design and mise en scene.

In the opening minutes of Sherlock the character John Watson as having both a physical disability in his knee and also an implied mental one: PTSD

Camera angles,shots movement and composition.

The camera work in the extract is successful in portraying  John Watson’s disability using camera techniques. The handheld camera work in Watson’s flashback presents his prior life as all over the place and full of adventure, while the shots of hm away from the flashback are all very controlled and still, which is reflective of his current predicament. And the fact that all of the flashback is filmed as if from his point of view, shows that it is still in his mind and he is unable to disconnect from the events. Away from the flashback sequence numerous shot examples are very good at displaying his disability. Noticeably the birds eye view shot of him in bed and the next shot of him sat on the bed with the cane. The birds eye view shot is in essence an extreme down angle shot, which portrays him as being vulnerable and how his condition has opened him up to the civilian world and is very voyeuristic in nature. Whereas the shot with him and the cane, has heavy focus on the rule of thirds. Him sat alone shows that he cannot connect to anyone else, and the framing between the cane and himself give extreme weight to the difference between his current and prior life


The ways in which the extract is edited further aide in emphasising the magnitude of his condition. The use of fast forward in the flashback shows the differences between his predicament and his life in the SAS. the parallel editing and cross cutting in between shots shows his stress and how thinking of those events, or what they did to him, makes him feel. The difference in pace of the editing between the sequence and away from it mirrors the differences between the two times and how he operates. as it is fast paced when he was more capable and is slower when he cannot.Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch (or Peanut and Curly Fu, as they're known to Chinese fans) in season 3 of Sherlock


Sound Design

The sound design in the extract helps to portray Watson’s disability. for example the difference in volume between the  flashback and him waking up shows the mundane-ness that his disability brings to his life, this is contrasted by the echoing from the flashback as he wakes up, which shows how strongly he is affected by those events; how they echo in his mind and display the distortion and trauma within it. The fact that this noise is uncomfortable to the ear also bears weight as it shows how his condition makes him feel.

The tempo and key of the soundtrack playing as he wakes up connotes sadness, which mirrors his feelings. The fact that the piece is based around one short phrase with little change, shows how is life is monotonous and boring.

Mise en Scene

The extract’s choice of setting and presentation presents Watson’s disability and how it affects him strongly. The use of a dull colour palette for example paints his life as such: Dull and lacking the vibrance that it once had, which mirrors how his mind is the same. This is only emphasised by the contrast between him and his therapist, who is dressed in very colourful clothing and when they are sat apart the light is on her side of the roomThe walking stick is displayed as very important as it is visible in almost every shot, which shows how much he relies on it. This is only emphasised by the fact he seems very uncomfortable when there are shots without it.

Not what it seems: Watson watched a DVD Sherlock had recorded before the jump to his 'death', explaining more about the situation

One thought on “Holmes Under The Hammer

  1. This is a good start, Owen. There are a couple of things, though:
    – You will not write in sections in the exam. Better get used to writing in essay form while still covering all of the four key areas.
    – Talking of which, each area deserves more than a single paragraph – I would suggest a paragraph for each distinct point you wish to make.
    – There are marks for accurate use of technical terminology – the more the merrier!


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