Sally Donovan in The Sign of Three
First time really drawing Sally. I hope I did her justice. She was so radiant and happy in TSoT. I need an entire show of just her and Lestrade being amazing cops together.
I keep hoping that one day, after many shared cases and much mutual struggling for the truth, we’ll see Sally look Sherlock in the eye and say “We’re not jealous of you at Scotland Yard…” I would gladly watch a whole series (hah!) of Sherlock with Donovan in the traditional Scotland Yard role, head-to-head with Holmes.
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Being on the Asperger’s Spectrum means I have problem with certain actors (or even any actor) being ubiquitous. Although they may well be playing different parts and being different characters, unless they are very clever an actor’s own gestures and posture often bleed through. I tend interact with people at a body language level (I don’t really read faces) and once I have seen one thing in one performance of character I cannot unsee it in another.
I am presuming Benedict is using the fist-to-mouth position (which humans often use unconsciously when they are stressed and in need of comfort) to show both these characters’ insecurities.
Also for another thought; did either of these characters suck their thumbs as a child, and for that matter, now we are thinking about it, did their actor?
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Pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris) growing at Barnack Holes and Hills nature reserve in Cambridgeshire.
For Let’s Draw Sherlock April’s challenge - Sherlock as a librarian and John as a book reviewer/blogger.
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Cherry Blossom at St Saviour’s Church, Magdelene Street, Norwich.
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What you have to realise is that, when I talk about a ‘stage’ upon which the rooftop duet in “The Reichenbach Fall” is performed, I am quite serious in what I say. The whole layout of the roof, with the way our protagonists move about, the music played and specific buildings in the skyline are taken in and out of shot, are, as Sherlock will later say ‘like a scene from a play.’ Everything has been carefully choreographed to have meaning, everything we see is being used to say something and give us information.
Let’s start from Sherlock’s ‘entrance’, there is a wide shot showing Jim on the roof parapet, several tall buildings in the background and music playing. Already in this few-second sequence we’ve been given the first clues which we need to look at. Where the characters stand or interact on the roof is even important, there are actually two sides to or ‘stage’ and these both have a role. Jim has the area to the left of the central chimneystack that we are seeing now and Sherlock’s side (the right side of the roof) will be visited later in the scene. As we will see, the use of these parts of the roof will show the power-balance in the conversation which is being had here.
Notice, in Mp3 playing on Jim’s phone as Sherlock walks in, the final two lines before Jim clicks off the music. “We can try to understand/The New York Times’ effect on man” certainly describes the effect of Kitty Reilly’s article and Sherlock’s later comment to John in the phone call (“the newspapers were right all along”) is pre-empted here as well.
Sherlock now walks twelve paces from the door onto our stage. We see him glance momentarily away over the other roofs of the hospital and as we are supposed to be ON the Pathology Building this could be important. Later on, once we have seen the reveal (the correct one and not the two silly ones from “The Empty Hearse”) we know there were helpers standing around waiting for a cue. They appear to swarm round the body Molly throws out of the window, and certain important ones remove it so Sherlock can lie down in its place. In the reveal these are seen to be appearing, and working from, behind the Pathology Building and take the body through the gate to the old mortuary area. This is where Sherlock is looking so he presumably already knows they are there.
On joining Jim on the front of the roof our Consulting Detective paces back and forth as Moriarty sits on the parapet watching him. Sherlock is walking the roof like a pendulum between the two sides, left and right, his side and Jim’s side; at this point in the scene there is an equal holding of power, no one has the upper hand. Jim IS complaining about how he’s beaten Sherlock, and he is sitting as ‘King of the Castle’ both as he is placed centrally on the parapet and from his position in the frame of our TV screen. This set-up is also reminiscent of his pose at the Tower of London with the Crown Jewels. We only see how dangerous the situation is when the camera gives a little glimpse over his shoulder down into West Smithfield and we see how high the building he is sitting on actually is.
As Jim sighs, ‘oh well,’ and stands up the mood of the scene changes. Things are getting dangerous; the soundtrack has become more ominous we are also seeing Jim walking circles around Sherlock, stalking his prey. One of the buildings we saw on the skyline comes into shot and joins us as a metaphor; let me introduce you to The Big Black Scary Building, aka 200 Aldersgate which stands at the back left of our stage. This building seems to represent a number of things, and turns up a number of times. Here it is showing Moriarty’s looming effect over Sherlock even though our hero is fighting it off with all his worth. While the two chat about lines of code and breaking into the bank, the tower and the prison the Big Black Scary Building is out of shot and we are just getting general views over the skyline in front of Bart’s. Once the subject of Sherlock’s suicide comes up there however, it is back again, with that menacing music in the background too.
Jim moves off a little to give Sherlock clear access to the edge of the roof and puts his hands behind his back, like death’s door attendant. The Big Black Scary Building is looking on but here we have more building metaphor added; the three towers of the Barbican Estate are lined up to be menaced by it as well. Sherlock is posed to be a fourth tower and one wonders what is being hinted at, but we’re off to see John visiting Mrs Hudson and the dodgy handyman at 221B. We’ll have to wait a little for our explanation.
The answer to the conundrum about what the extra buildings mean is given once we’ve got John in the taxi and we are back on the roof. Sherlock has Jim by the lapels hanging over the drop telling him he’s mad, and then Jim really does drop the bomb and reveals the explanation for us. “Three bullets, three gunmen, three victims” he gloats, and didn’t we get the three towers of the Barbican Estate earlier? Death, as the Big Black Scary Building, was threatening them, and there was Sherlock standing in front of them with all that resting on his shoulders. We even see the Big Black Scary Building peering over Sherlock’s shoulders in reality as he, still grabbing Jim, is momentarily stilled in horror (just look at the expression on his face) by the realisation of what Jim has just said.
As our two protagonists look over the parapet and at the buses and ‘audience’ below I always smile. Yes there are quite a few extras walking past (I can spot them because they walk in a certain manner and look dressed to be out of place in West Smithfield) but there do seem to be a couple of locals in the shot. The bags the person has rested on the bench do look as if they have come from nearby. They are orange and there is a Sainsburys at near enough, in Paternoster Square next to St Paul’s Cathedral which is not far to walk. I also think the older lady by the bus is a visitor to the hospital, I am positive I’ve met her on a couple of occasions when I’ve been down there later in the day on a weekend.
The next bit, as Sherlock mounts the parapet, is where, as someone who knows the buildings in West Smithfield well, I get a bit of a headache. As we change our point of view for a moment, viewing things from the ground as our hero steps up onto the edge, we’ve moved buildings. Although there has been some digital erasure of background skylights and extraneous cranes behind Sherlock it does looks like his actor really is standing on the edge of Pathology without a harness or a safety net too. Mr Cumberbatch seems to have no fear of heights but it certainly isn’t the nicest place to be. Thankfully for someone who isn’t totally happy with loftiness we’re soon back where we were before safely on the original roof.
As the point of view changes again, so we are looking straight at Sherlock’s face and can see his expressions and reactions to standing on the edge, there are a number of things we need to take note of here. They happen in quick succession and I’m sorry if things get complicated!
First we’ve moved around on the roof again, we’re still on the 1950’s infill but we can see the dome St Paul’s Cathedral behind Sherlock. There is no way you can get that shot with an actor standing on the edge of the building we are filming on. For a start you’d need scaffolding to get the camera up to the level we are standing at. There’s a drop in front of that parapet– not the big drop we see from the front of the building but a one down to another roof which as used in the first part of the stunt to create the fall. As Benedict said in Unlocking Sherlock, “that’s me … that’s me up on a roof …that’s not me jumping off the roof, but that’s me jumping off a smaller roof onto a lower roof, which is about four feet.”
The next thing to take note is that you can’t get the lovely (and important) dome of St Paul’s showing in the background from that position on the edge. All you’d get is the skylight of the next door Old Medical School, and that tall skinny chimney as well; the view across London effectively blocked. Instead they have shifted Benedict about ten feet back up the roof to get a clear shot and, I presume on put our actor on a box or something (he does actually seem higher on the skyline than he should be).
Finally we have the most important part of this sequence; what Sherlock’s face and behaviour give away. You’ll notice when our hero first steps up onto the edge he was behaving in a manner which makes him look shaky and unsteady. This is most usual behaviour for him; we’ve seen him on roofs (and high rocks on Dartmoor) not being affected at all by heights at all. My understanding is here we are seeing Sherlock doing the thing which is out of character which Messrs Gatiss and Moffatt told us about, and acting oddly to put Jim off the scent. Even as he is climbing onto the edge he’s using the fact he is facing away from Jim to better his advantage. We see Sherlock taking furtive glances down and to his right and to where, due to the reveal in the next series, we know there are helpers massing in the street below.
As Sherlock asks Jim, ‘will you give me one moment please, one moment of privacy’, he is looking straight across from his point on the roof, further over into West Smithfield presumably at the helpers we know are over waiting in Hosier Lane. He still needs to be rid of Jim to confirm his plan though and once he has gone, the polite murderer moving away to give Sherlock some space, we see our hero take a breath and relax. Sherlock has one more look down towards the roadway, the music becomes light and cheerful and we see him smiling; has someone given just him a signal? Now he’s seen his plan is in place Sherlock can relax and work on talking Jim out of what he’s planning. This is what I see the next part of the sequence as, Sherlock has got the upper hand again.
Sherlock almost skips off the edge of the roof away from danger now he’s sure his plan for survival exists. The writers really are playing with us throughout our time on the rooftop, moving us towards and away from the precipice twice already. We’ll only have to go back there a third time to complete the journey. In another piece of meta-analysis I’ll have to write about the use of the number three in series two (and three) of Sherlock, and how series four definitely will have a four in it.
You might also have noticed the camera has moved for this next part of the roof scene; were more interested from the door side of the chimney pot array now. This is partly to get an important building into view and partly to show Sherlock is back in control; we’re on his side of the roof.
If buildings on one side of the roof were being used metaphorically then the ones on the other side had to be playing their part too. ‘What have I missed?’ is what Jim shouts at Sherlock, not sure about why his victim is suddenly being so cheerful now. Look at what is visible right behind Jim’s head, that is exactly what he’s missed and even I was not getting what was being said by it’s presence for a little while either. Admittedly I could have considered the large skylight on the Old Medical School as blocking the view of Justice (and the Old Bailey) but I think that is taking things a bit far. I read somewhere too (not sure where, someone may be able to lead me to this) David Arnold was in on the trick and added musical clues. Let’s see if we can focus and narrow it down a bit.
Sherlock and Jim are later even further up the right side of the roof and Sherlock is circling Jim as Jim was circling Sherlock earlier. We can see who has the power at this point in their conversation. Next we get a very odd juxtaposition; St Paul’s Cathedral, talk of Sherlock’s brother and talk of being “on the side of the angels”. The angel thing at least can be relatively easily explained away by it being linked to the lines from “Stayin’ Alive” which say, ‘I’ve got the wings of heaven on my shoes.’ It is also part of Jim leaving temptation (and carved apples) in the path of Sherlock, Jim-as-the-devil and ‘if you want me to shake hands with you in hell I shall not disappoint you’.
What I really want to draw your attention to in this section though, and what even the director seems to want to draw everyone’s attention to, is St Paul’s Cathedral. I’ve tried not to use any screen grabs in this essay but this is one I cannot omit. Here we are given a very heavy handed indicator to what is so important in the shot.
When I was first watching this scene I was wondered why on earth a camera antenna used by Sherlock’s filming had been left so visibly clamped to that radio aerial (look at all the electrical stuff all left in shot on the right of the screen). Surely that must have been an oversight? Then I looked at what it was pointing and went, ‘ok, now I get it, thanks for the clue, this finally makes sense.’
What we are seeing (and having pointed out to us) is Sherlock and Jim being set up in their stance to mirror the two smaller domes at the front of St Paul’s. What is overlooking those? The BIG dome of St Paul’s, and guess who that represents? I am sure I don’t have to make jokes about eating too much cake, and being on diets to make you get my point. In this situation Big Brother really is watching what is going on. This also makes sense of why we hear the clang of a fairly big bell when Sherlock tells Jim, ‘I’m not my brother’ and why I KNEW right from the start of this whole mystery that Mycroft was in on things. He just had to be.
After this things go fairly quickly downhill, with Jim shooting himself and John turning up for the final phone call. Even the way he (and Sherlock) have been filmed here tells us a great deal about what is going on for both of them.
Sherlock is very alone on the roof with only Death (and the return of the Big Black Scary Building) standing behind him. We also see Mycroft must be monitoring things as the dome of St Paul’s comes into shot now and again. The silliest thing about these two shots you will have worked out for yourself if you have been following me so far. For these backgrounds he’s not on any edge at all and is back up the infill roof, in two separate places and probably on a box too. This is why these things take two days long days to film.
Another thing that annoys me slightly about the placing of people is, because Benedict spent so little time on the edge of Pathology, (and they filmed so much on the edge of the infill roof) John gets oddly lined up standing in the road. Having stood in the in his place myself a few times I was trying to work out why a close-up shot of him provided a backdrop of bollards on the pavement and a tree blocking out everything else. It didn’t make sense, but when I stood there and looked at it I worked it out. It’s the angle you see – had Martin been looking straight up at Pathology you’d only see the buildings behind, because he is looking at an angle to the 1950’s infill the camera has to move more to the right.
[The funny thing is that two years later when they filmed a version of the reveal Martin was STILL looking at the infill when Benedict really was standing there in front of him on Pathology. I can only thing the director must have been talking to him before he popped into the little door that has the stairs to Pathology roof and go out of sight for the shot.]
You do you actually see Sherlock’s viewpoint from the edge of the concrete infill when the taxi arrives with John. We see his feet go up, get a shot of him on Pathology, go back to his feet on the infill and then the focus changes and John is arriving in the taxi and getting out. Notice the red door you can see between Sherlock’s legs in this shot? That is the (now closed) newsagents across the road which is parallel with the infill and not Pathology which has the Blues Cafe and the entrance to the block of flats across the road from it. We even get a very fast pan back up from John on the road to Sherlock’s head and shoulders and him holding his phone. Here we get a backdrop of St Sepulchre, the church next to the Old Bailey. You can’t see that when you are standing on the Pathology Building either.
John being filmed from the roof is having metaphor created for him. He is made to seem very small, and very distant, and very trapped in the situation. The very setting of this scene, with buildings that surround the ambulance station at West Smithfield, certainly makes it amphitheatre-like and it is very easy (and popular!) to shut off to film in. The Ambulance Station is used not only as a physical block to John’s line of sight but also a symbolic one as you’ll understand.
The whole thing is filmed tightly too, everything has been done to keep the audience in the dark and we had to wait for the new series and different, and wider, camera angles to understand how everything works out. Even Sherlock seems trapped when he’s lying on the pavement by the bus shelter; in one shot we can only see partly up Giltspur Street as our view is blocked by some (now removed) trees in full leaf.
And now we are done. I hope this has been enjoyable to read and I can move onto my next job. We got three reveals of how the trick was played and I want to analyse those. Having thought about them, and knowing that part of London as intimately as I you know I do, I’ve already picked up quite a few flies in the ointment.
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As you’ll know if you’ve caught up with me before, my take on the Sherlock fandom is a bit different from most other people. I came into it not because of the actors in it but because it was an updated Sherlock Holmes drama that was being filmed around parts of a city that I know very well. Anglophile friends from America asked me to take a look at the show to see if I recognised where it was being shot, I was able to say I did. I probably know parts of the capital city almost as well as Sherlock does. The city we see on screen unquestionably meets the one I know and there is a definite crossover. With an open mind, the right people, and getting to certain places at the right time of day, you don’t even need a good imagination. I’m not talking about a visit to North Gower Street and Speedy’s café full of Saturday morning fans either.
Of course when I got involved with Sherlock, “The Reichenbach Fall” had just been broadcast and it wasn’t a fun time to start out in the fandom. I was left, along with all the other fans spending that time mourning with John, and trying to work out just how our beloved detective had survived jumping off a hospital rooftop.
The internet exploded with theories and even I spent time standing on the pavement at Bart’s and scratching my head. I also researched further afield by taking a holiday in Wales — visiting a very particular cemetery was important as you know — but I have to confess I was already pretty sure I’d worked out what had happened. My knowledge of London, its buildings and structures, and particularly the way the final scene between Sherlock and Jim was located and shot, told me a lot. The creators of Sherlock — be they writers, designers, directors or cinematographers — are so literal in their visual clues, it all sometimes seems a little obvious.
Let me explain; a favourite example of mine is seen in “The Hounds of Baskerville”; the putting of a plaited willow heart centre-stage above the roaring fire in the inglenook in the inn in Grimpen Village. This provides graphic foreshadowing of events in Series Two and a visual play on a chilling line Jim Moriarty uttered in “A Scandal in Belgravia”. There are plenty of other examples scattered all over the show but I didn’t realise what I was looking at in “The Reichenbach Fall” until I’d watched that part of the episode a few times.
Returning to the specific sequence I am talking about here, at the point in the hiatus we were at, I knew getting involved in the online ‘how did he do it?’ discussion wasn’t a good idea. It was likely to make me get cross and even if someone did get the answer right the writers had the upper hand. Messrs Gatiss and Moffat could change things to fit their own whim and then persuade us they were right all along. For the time being I would just have to wait patiently and see if we did get an explanation that made sense. I would also have to double check that what I was thinking really was proved by what I was seeing on screen.
Now bring things forward to New Year’s Day 2014 and the big reveal. The clever open-ended manner used, with room for debate
, will mean discussion for a long time to come. Different directors literally bring different viewpoints too, via their camerawork, and we did indeed get a new director for “The Empty Hearse”. The wonderful thing though, was that, although the episode gave us a lot of things to think about, I was confirmed to have been correct about a significant number of points. Some things can’t help but be altered, for example needing to shift your main stunt because street furniture has been moved and was now in the way (!) but there wasn’t much to surprise me.
This is not to say filming was easy at Bart’s in the first place and that it didn’t cause problems when working out what they were trying to tell, or not tell us. The Hospital had a number of structural challenges to overcome right from the start, and even as “The Reichenbach Fall” was broadcast some sharp eyed fans (including ones who didn’t know or even live in London) were spotting something odd. We saw Sherlock standing talking to John in one place but attentive observers (and those watching the filming - paramedics based in Smithfield and even the security team at Bart’s) know this wasn’t where he shared his little tête-à-tête with Jim Moriarty. What was going on?
There is a perfectly simple answer, locals, and those who know that part of the City of London, will explain it all to you with a knowing nod. The roof of the old Pathology Building, where Sherlock supposedly stood delivering his speech by mobile phone, is full of air conditioning ducting, skylights and all sorts of other things. It was never going to accommodate two actors, a film crew and several producers all standing up there at the same time. Then there are parts of the lovely (and clue-droppingly important) view of the London Skyline used to such good effect too. Were you on the Pathology Building you wouldn’t be able to see them. Shots of St Paul’s Cathedral and other buildings of the city are blocked by higher blocks of the hospital and the film crew needed to move upwards to get what they wanted on screen.
To situate this discussion properly I need to explain Bart’s geographic location within the West Smithfield area and will do so here. The southerly front of the hospital faces out onto a cul-de-sac bus turning circle at the end of Giltspur Lane. Two large hospital buildings stand as a pair of Victorian stone edifices overlooking Smithfield Ambulance Station and like some twins they are identical in their build but different in their clothing. The Pathology Building, which Sherlock stood on the edge of stands on the left; it is flat roofed and filled with air-conditioning ducting and skylights I explained about. Shots of these figure quite prominently in the final explanation we get in “The Empty Hearse” too, and also in the teaser-trailer that came out before this episode.
The other building facing out into West Smithfield to the right of the Pathology Building is the old Medical School at Bart’s, now a library and a museum. It is topped with one big skylight; a long black painted wooden structure. We see on camera when Sherlock and Jim stand next to it a few times, there is also a visible small chimney stack from the boiler once used to heat the Medical School.
What we are actually interested in (and what confused everyone watching “The Reichenbach Fall” back in January 2012) is something completely different to the Victorian architecture we’ve been talking about here. There is another, post WW2, dog-leg structure of brick and concrete which is tucked in-between the Pathology building and the Old Medical School. It’s this fill-in that played the part of Bart’s roof for most of the sequence in “The Reichenbach Fall” and its flat roof provides a long thin space with excellent views of London.
So it’s here we have our location set for our confrontation between Sherlock and Jim Moriarty. There is a ventilation outlet to contend with on the roof, but that was disguised as a stack of chimney pots. Also added was a (slightly shaky) doorway so pretend stairs were available for our hero to climb to the roof on. In reality you access the rooftop via a small spiral staircase off the roof of Pathology, but that’s not important here. The black wooden skylight on the next-door Old Medical School does get in the way too, but that is useful in blocking out the view of the Old Bailey. The outside Central Criminal Court had featured earlier in the episode during Jim’s trial abut wasn’t really relevant here. To see the view of St Paul’s and south across the Thames, also blocked by the skylight, a move of about twenty feet west, back along the roof was all that was required. There was in fact a great deal of moving about this area in this scene as I will explain, but it’s probably easier if I begin at the beginning if I am going to make any sense. We’ve found our location, so let’s bring our protagonists out onto it and call ‘action!’
Statues are often idealized works of art. They are ideological, political or religious representations and attempt to turn their subjects into fascinating, eternal figures. Even when erected to keep alive the memory of a single person, a statue that lasts many generations will eventually establish itself as a symbol for the community.
Statues are even more influential when they are monumental. An edifice can be said to be monumental when it is unusual, extraordinary and physically imposing. It has to be abnormal — as exceptional as the political or religious power itself — and also inseparable from its symbolic aspects.
The series “Colosses” is a study of the landscapes that embrace monumental commemorative statues.
SoP | Scale of Environments
Having got a flat full of Guan Shi Yin statues am surprised to see as many colossi of her featuring together here - as many as their are Buddhas even..
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