The Hound of the Baskervilles

Watch The Hound of the Baskervilles

  • TV-PG
  • 1981
  • 2 hr 27 min
  • 8.5  (6,450)

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a well-regarded adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective novel of the same name. Released in 1981, this Soviet television film features celebrated actor Vasiliy Livanov as the iconic Sherlock Holmes, with Vitali Solomin portraying his loyal companion, Dr. John Watson. Directed by Igor Maslennikov, this take on the Gothic mystery integrates the atmospheric elements of the English moors with the uniquely Russian interpretations of the story's beloved characters.

The plot kicks off with the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville, the lord of Baskerville Hall, amidst rumors of a family curse. According to legend, a spectral hound haunts the Baskerville family, a vengeful beast born from the misdeeds of an ancestor. After the tragic event, Dr. Mortimer, a friend of the late Sir Charles, seeks out the aid of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. Watson to protect the last remaining heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, from suffering the same ghastly fate as his relative.

Upon accepting the case, Holmes sends Watson ahead to Baskerville Hall on Dartmoor to accompany Sir Henry and gather information, while he stays behind in London under the guise of other pressing matters. Watson's correspondence with Holmes throughout his time on the moorlands provides the detective with vital clues and insights. The premise of the story delves deeply into the eerie and exclusive surroundings of the English countryside, where the ancient manor of Baskerville Hall stands against a backdrop of fog-laden moors. This chilling scenery plays a significant part in establishing the film's suspenseful and ominous atmosphere.

The character of Holmes is expertly played by Livanov, whose portrayal has been lauded for its nuance and faithfulness to Doyle's original creation. With a keen intelligence and an almost unmatched ability for deductive reasoning, Holmes navigates through the layers of mystery with his characteristic flair, yet maintains a practical and rational approach to the supernatural elements of the curse. The chemistry between Livanov and Solomin's Watson contributes to this adaptation’s strength, as the astute and methodical Holmes is complemented by the earnest and stalwart Watson, who often serves as the audience's proxy in the unraveling of the enigma.

Rina Zelyonaya adds to the cast by bringing to life the loyal Mrs. Hudson, the housekeeper of 221B Baker Street who has seen her fair share of Holmes' eccentricities and remarkable cases. The rapport among the characters reflects a camaraderie that adds depth and warmth to the narrative.

Notably, this iteration of The Hound of the Baskervilles was made for television and was part of a series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations produced by Lenfilm for Soviet television during the late 1970s and early 1980s. As a result, the film benefits from a serialized storytelling approach that allows for a deeper exploration of the detective's character and the intricacies of the plot.

The storytelling is methodical, reflecting the novel's intricate detailing and the slow reveal of crucial plot points. Set designers and costumers paid great attention to the time period in which the story is set, and the result is a visually accurate depiction of the late 19th and early 20th-century England. From the costumes to the sets, every element helps immerse the viewer in the historical context and adds authenticity to the unfolding drama.

As the story progresses, red herrings and suspicious characters inhabit the narrative space, each potentially holding the key to the mystery shrouding Baskerville Hall. The foreboding environment of Dartmoor serves as much more than just a setting; it is an active participant in the tension, with its shifting mists and treacherous bogs heightening the sense of danger and otherworldliness. The hound itself, a creature of legend and horror within the story, is a shadow that looms over both the characters and viewers, creating a pervasive sense of dread.

The Hound of the Baskervilles possesses the intriguing combination of a detective thriller and a horror tale, effectively bridging the gap between a cerebral puzzle and a gripping adventure. It challenges the characters and the audience to distinguish between the logical and the supernatural, to question the veracity of legends and curses in the face of grim reality.

In summary, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a classic Soviet interpretation of one of Sherlock Holmes' most famous cases. Through its atmospheric direction, first-rate performances, and faithful adherence to the source material, it stands as a notable addition to the vast array of cinematic adaptations devoted to the master detective's exploits. The film is remembered not just as an effective translation of a beloved novel, but also as a significant contribution to the global legacy of Sherlock Holmes in the visual arts.

The Hound of the Baskervilles
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 27 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.5  (6,450)