A Comparison of the Great Mouse Detective and Sherlock Holmes
Continued from Part 1…
In the next scene, Olivia has just finished telling Basil what happened to her father. Basil paces the room deep in thought, smoking his pipe. He is clearly excited about the case, especially since Ratigan is involved. At one point he turns to Olivia and says, "Now, you're certain you've told me everything? The slightest detail may be important." This is a point that Sherlock Holmes always stressed. He would urge his clients to tell him every detail, even if it seemed insignificant, because he said the details were often the most important in a case.
Moments later, the peg-legged bat Fidget is spotted outside the window. Basil and Dawson race outside to catch him, but he has disappeared, although he has left his hat behind. Basil snatches it away from Dawson and rushes back inside, and explains that they need someone else to help them find the bat.
And so Basil leads them to Holmes' flat above them. After Holmes and Watson leave, our heroes emerge from a hole in the wall, and the camera sweeps around the room, giving us a view of Holmes' sitting room, which is very similar to Basil's. on the bookshelf, we see several little odds and ends, including the famous bust of Holmes used in "The Adventure of the Empty House." As the camera moves, we also see a portrait of a woman above the fireplace…Irene Adler perhaps? Basil also walks past Holmes' violin by the chair.
And now, we meet Toby. In this movie, Toby is a playful basset hound that appears to be Holmes' pet. But in the canon, Toby belonged to a man named Sherman, and was described as "an ugly, long-haired, lop-eared creature, half spaniel and half lurcher, brown and white in color, with a very clumsy waddling gait" (The Sign of Four). But both dogs have an excellent sense of smell, and aid the detectives in following the scent of the villains.
Next is the toyshop scene, in which Basil demonstrates his brilliant deductive powers once again. Sadly, Olivia gets kidnapped by Fidget, but Dawson finds a list that the bat dropped, and so he and Basil race back to Baker Street to examine it and find out where it came from. As Basil looks at it with his magnifying glass, he says, "Offhand I can deduce very little. Only that the words are written with a broad pointed quill pen, which has spattered twice…that the paper is of…native Mongolian manufacture…no watermark. And has…been gummed, if I'm not very much in error…by a bat who has been drinking Rodents Delight." This is almost a direct copy of what Holmes says in "The Man with the Twisted Lip": "Let us now see the letter. Ha! there has been an enclosure here! ...Written in pencil upon the fly-leaf of a book, octavo size, no water-mark. Hum! Posted to-day in Gravesend by a man with a dirty thumb. Ha! And the flap has been gummed, if I am not very much in error, by a person who had been chewing tobacco." Basil observes that there is a smudge of coal dust on the paper, and then performs an experiment on it in which he deduces where it came from. Holmes also performed chemical experiments. In A Study in Scarlet, Watson first met Holmes in a laboratory, and he notes that Holmes has several discolored stains on his hands from the chemicals he deals with.
And so Basil and Dawson set off to the only place where the sewer connects to the waterfront…a pub called "The Rat Trap." However, they go undercover as sailors, as mentioned earlier. This is Basil's second disguise (remember the fat Chinese mouse at the beginning?). Holmes of course used disguises as well…from an injured parson ("A Scandal in Bohemia") to an old lady (I don't remember which story that was, but I know he did it!) He was also an excellent actor, and often feigned illness, such as in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective." Basil also proves he is quite capable of acting, from the way he walks to his gruff voice.
As the showgirls sing, Basil notices Fidget enter the bar. After a bar fight breaks out, Fidget disappears, and Basil and Dawson have their chance to follow him through a trapdoor behind the bar. They follow him into the sewers where he eventually leads them to Ratigan's lair. But it was a trap all along, and Ratigan appears with his minions and begins taunting Basil. This is actually the first time we see the two enemies meet in the movie, and it's easy to see their hatred for each other from how Basil stands stiff and straight with his fists balled up by his side and how Ratigan rips off his mustache and makes fun of his disguise. I believe there are only two or three instances in the canon where Holmes and Moriarity meet face to face, all mentioned in "The Final Problem": there's their first meeting where Moriarity shows up unexpectedly at Holmes' flat and warns him to drop the case; Holmes and Watson also see him chasing them from a distance as they escape on a train; then there's the final showdown at the Reichenbach Falls.
Ratigan's minions join him in making fun of the detective for walking into his trap, and Basil falls into another depression. He hangs his head and just loses the will to fight as they tie him and Dawson to a mousetrap. As Ratigan monologues about his evil plans, Basil remains silent while Dawson seethes with anger. But, when Ratigan leaves them to their doom, Dawson tries to cheer him up. He encourages Basil, saying "You can stop that villain…I know you can save us…" This is another trait that Dawson shares with Watson: both look up to and admire the detectives.
Long story short, Basil eventually regains his senses and is able to come up with a brilliant means of escaping Ratigan's overkill deathtrap. Basil, Dawson, and Olivia then rush off on Toby's back to stop Ratigan from fulfilling his plans of taking over the kingdom. After saving Queen Mousetoria (based on Queen Victoria of course) from the jaws of Ratigan's cat Felicia, releasing Flaversham, and exposing Ratigan for the fraud he is, total chaos erupts. Fidget grabs Olivia in the pandemonium, and Ratigan escapes, threatening to kill her if Basil follows. But Basil uses his wits once again to make their own airship out of a British flag, a matchbox, and balloons, and they chase the villain through the air above London. Basil manages to leap onto the dirigible, but as Ratigan looks behind him, he loses control of the ship, and it crashes into the clock face of Big Ben.
The fight between Basil and Ratigan that follows resembles the final showdown between Holmes and Moriarity, which took place at the top of the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. In "The Final Problem," Moriarity attacked Holmes, and it was believed that both perished by falling into the waterfall locked in combat. But because of fan's outrage at Doyle killing off the hero, he was resurrected in "The Adventure of the Empty House," where it is revealed that by using his knowledge of baritsu, a Japanese style of wrestling, Holmes managed to slip out of his grasp before the villain lost his footing and toppled into the abyss. Holmes is also described as being an expert at singlestick, fencing, and bare knuckle fighting.
A similar battle occurs in this movie, although it appears that Basil is greatly outmatched, at least physically. As Ratigan's true form emerges, his claws extend and he begins attacking Basil viciously. When he first grabs Basil from behind, Basil does manage to slip out of his grasp…perhaps a similar baritsu move taken from Holmes. Many people may wonder why Basil didn't fight back, but I think it's because Ratigan was so much bigger than him, and after those first couple of blows, poor Basil was just too weak to fight back. If you listen closely as the blows land, it sounds like he's choking on his own blood. Ratigan knocks Basil further down the arm of the clock, closer and closer to the edge. The rat delivers one final blow, causing Basil to fall down towards the ground. But Basil manages to grab onto the remnants of Ratigan's dirigible. As he rings the small bell stolen from Rattigan (just when did he manage to snag that?) the clock strikes the hour, and the reverberations cause Ratigan to fall off the ledge. He grabs onto Basil, and their combined weight is too much for the wreckage, and they both tumble toward the ground. But moments later, we see Basil emerge from the mist as he uses the propeller from Ratigan's airship to fly up to his friends. I guess this might could be seen as a parallel to Holmes escaping from the same fate at the Reichenbach Falls. Also, as Ratigan falls towards the ground, he lets out a terrible scream. In "The Adventure of the Empty House," Holmes recalls Moriarity fell over into the falls "with a horrible scream," and as Holmes climbed the rock wall to try to get to safety, he "seemed to hear Moriarity's voice screaming at me out of the abyss." I imagine Basil may have had a similar experience as he rode the propeller to safety.
The next scene shows our heroes back at Baker Street, and we see a newspaper clipping of Basil and Dawson being honored by the queen herself for foiling Ratigan's evil plans. Holmes worked for royalty or people in higher authority very few times, and surprisingly declined a knighthood in "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs." But looking closely at the article, it only says "medal to be given," so it seems Basil was not knighted, at least this time. After Olivia and her father leave, Dawson states that it's time for him to be on his way as well, and Basil expresses his disappointment. Then a knock sounds upon the door, and Dawson admits a lovely lady into the house, who turns out to be a client in need of Basil's help. Basil seizes the opportunity and to Dawson's surprise, introduces him as Basil's associate "with whom I do all my cases. Isn't that right, Doctor?" Holmes and Watson were actually roommates at first, but eventually he became interested in Holmes cases, and offered to chronicle them at the end of A Study in Scarlet. I assume that since the Flaversham case is Dawson's first with Basil, it would be the first one that he would write about. But Dawson does stay, as he says, "From that time on, Basil and I grew very close, and over the years we had many cases together. But I shall always look back on that first with the most fondness…my introduction to Basil of Baker Street…the Great Mouse Detective!"
So, I hope you have enjoyed reading this. As I said before, I'm sure there's some things I've missed, so feel free to leave any comments you might have. I know it has given me a greater appreciation for all the wonderful people who created this movie and for Mr. Doyle and his creation. Thank you for reading!
*NOTE: once again, I own NONE of the movies, books, etc. mentioned in this, and if I quoted anything from a book or movie, I gave credit to the original creators. The Great Mouse Detective and its characters are © Disney and Eve Titus. All the Sherlock Holmes stories and characters mentioned belong to the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.