'Sherlock Holmes' Mistake Turns Into Action Highlight
'A Game of Shadows' director Guy Ritchie recalls how one shot was turned into his favorite action sequence.
By Kara Warner
Noomi Rapace, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" Photo: Daniel Smith/ Warner Bros
There's a lot to like about Guy Ritchie's big-screen versions of the adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle's famous literary hero Sherlock Holmes, the latest of which, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," just arrived in theaters. One of the most likable elements is that Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is a bit of a badass, which Ritchie has showcased with as many action sequences as possible.
Those who've seen "A Game of Shadows" know that the "forest escape" scene is the most impressive of the bunch. In a nutshell, Holmes, Watson (Jude Law) and Madam Sim (Noomi Rapace) are running through a forest, trying not to get hit by the sniper pursuing them or one of the many bombs being hurled their way. The sequence has that patented Ritchie finesse. It features a mix of real-time action and slow motion so the audience can fully invest in all the stunning detail, even if that detail is people being blown to bits.
When MTV News caught up with Downey and Ritchie, we asked how that sequence — which was written simply as "they run through the forest" in the script — came to be.
"It was the height of the winter, and there was a phantom camera on essentially a remote-controlled, high-speed track," Downey recalled of the setup. "So we were trying to sync ourselves with the remote-controlled track. It's really interesting stuff. I think Guy really had an idea for how he wanted [it] to look and feel, and we accomplished it, thank God. It was freezing out there!"
Ritchie revealed that although he had planned every detail to make the scene as big as it could be, a technician's blunder forced him to make some unplanned changes that actually improved the sequence.
"I threw a lot of moving parts at it. We had ideas, and all in all, it came together in a way I hoped it was going to come together. One of the technicians missed one of the shots, which was the most fundamental shot of Robert and Jude running through the woods. I've only got one shot of them doing that, because the guy forgot to record the rest of it," he said. "So I string this shot out, but what it meant is that I could scream at someone else and realize there was a lot more that could be extracted from this scene, so I went back for three or four more days and absolutely wrung its neck," Ritchie explained of stretching the one shot of Downey and Law to fill time. " ... Somewhere, some poor technician got fired somewhere because he forgot to record it, but really, I'm indebted to him."