2023 Author: Leah Sherlock | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:28
The main antagonist of the famous English detective Sherlock Holmes, Professor James Moriarty, was remembered by readers from the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and from films based on them. He is the head of a dangerous criminal network operating throughout Europe, with which the famous master of the deductive method is fighting. Who is he, the criminal genius of Europe, and did he have a prototype? Which actors have embodied his image on the screen?
The prototype of a dangerous criminal
Arthur Conan Doyle took many of the character traits and appearance of the characters in his books from real life. Professor Moriarty also has several prototypes. According to the researchers of the English writer's work, the image of Holmes's main opponent was mainly copied from Adam Worth, who was called the "Napoleon of the underworld" in the 19th century. It was this characterization that Moriarty gave in the stories of the writer.
A real genius of the underworld of the 19th century - what is the similarity with a literary character?
Worth's parents lived in Europe but then emigrated to the US. During the Civil War, Adam fought for the Union. After the end of hostilities, he began a criminal career and became a pickpocket. Very quickly, Worth became the leader of his owngangs and engaged in robberies. He was caught and sent to Sing Sing, one of the most terrible prisons. He successfully escaped from it and returned to the underworld again. He became famous for robbing a bank in Boston, penetrating there through a tunnel dug from a nearby store. This story Conan Doyle later uses in his stories about Sherlock Holmes. After a daring robbery, Worth fled to England, where he created a criminal network engaged in robberies. He arranged the matter in such a way that none of the participants in his criminal schemes knew by sight their organizer. This is how Conan Doyle described Moriarty - a man in the shadows and directing through intermediaries hundreds of his henchmen throughout Europe.
Worth's fate is extremely interesting. In the end, he himself came to William Pinkerton and told his story. He spent the last years of his life decently, together with his children. Worth's son became a detective at the Pinkerton agency.
Which of Doyle's original stories feature London's evil underworld mastermind?
It seems strange, but Sherlock Holmes' main adversary, Professor Moriarty, appears in only a few stories. The Norwood Contractor and The Empty House see the famous detective and Dr. Watson uncover crimes behind which their sinister adversary stands. The criminal genius himself is not personally shown in them, Holmes only speaks of him as an organizer and compares him with a spider weaving a web.
And only in the story, which at one time caused a storm of indignation, in which the brilliant detective dies, Professor Moriarty,finally appears before the readers. This is the story "The Last Case of Holmes". With this work, Doyle wanted to end the order of the detective who had bothered him, but caused a flurry of indignation. Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty were too colorful characters to just get rid of them like that. The detective, beloved by readers, had to be resurrected, but his main opponent was out of luck. Professor Moriarty died at the bottom of the Reichenbach Falls.
The best film adaptations of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes featuring his main adversary
In the entire history of cinema, there have been many adaptations of stories about the great detective and his sworn enemy. But only a few were especially liked and remembered by the audience.
The 1980 Soviet TV movie "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson" is still considered one of the most successful adaptations of Doyle's stories. Vasily Livanov himself was repeatedly recognized by the British as the best Holmes of all time. Of the modern paintings, the films of Guy Ritchie had great success. The British television series Sherlock and the Russian Sherlock Holmes are popular.
Who played Professor Moriarty. Actors and their incarnations
To embody the role of the evil genius of London and Europe on the screen is a difficult task. Arthur Conan Doyle gives a very definite description of the villain's appearance. Professor Moriarty (photo can be seen below) had a thin face and gray hair. Outwardly, he most of all resembled a priest. Possessed a fast stilted speech.
In the Soviet film adaptation, Professor Moriarty is actor Viktor Evgrafov. He managed to convey the literary appearance of the criminal. High,thin, with a piercing gaze, dressed in a black suit, he really looked like a poisonous spider, always ready to jump.
In Guy Ritchie's second film about the adventures of the famous detective, the audience finally saw the main enemy of Holmes. During the filming of A Game of Shadows, there were many rumors that Moriarty was actor Brad Pitt. In the first part, the director did not show the face of the villain, which gave him the opportunity to choose any celebrity for this role. But Richie opted for the British actor Jared Harris, and did not lose. Moriarty in his performance turned out to be convincingly cruel and prudent. Before the audience appears the image of a brilliant mathematician, many moves ahead, developing a plan of action and cold-bloodedly removing objectionable witnesses. This is how Conan Doyle described the professor. And although outwardly Harris bears little resemblance to the description of Moriarty, he played the role entrusted to him brilliantly.
In the 2003 adventure film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the most famous characters from the books of the 19th century were collected: Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, Tom Sawyer, Dorian Gray. Their opponent was the Phantom, under whose name Moriarty was hiding. He was played by Australian actor Richard Roxberg.
In the popular modern series Sherlock, Professor Moriarty is actor Andrew Scott. The opponent of Sherlock Holmes in his performance is very different from the classic image. He is not from a noble family, has good manners,the real villain is a lunatic. So it was conceived by the creators of the series, who wanted to move away from the cliché. Even the action itself they transferred to our time. Another difference between Moriarty, played by Scott, and the works of other actors is that he is very young.
In 2013, the Russian series about the adventures of the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, was released. The role of Professor Moriarty was played by Alexei Gorbunov.
Paradoxes of the movie "Young Sherlock Holmes"
Actor Anthony Higgins played the sinister Professor Moriarty in this 1985 film. In 1993, he also embodied on the screen the already famous detective in the television series 1994 Baker Street: The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
This is not the only case when an actor plays the role of ideological opponents in different films. Richard Roxburgh, a year before filming The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where he embodied the image of Professor Moriarty, played Sherlock Holmes in the film The Hound of the Baskervilles.
James Moriarty in the works of other authors
The famous 19th-century criminal, invented by Arthur Conan Doyle and killed by him, received a second birth in the books of other writers. The most interesting works popular with readers are the novels of the modern author Kim Newman. In them, the main character is not the famous detective, but Professor Moriarty. "The Hound of the d'Urbervilles" is one of the books in the cycle dedicated to the "Napoleon of the underworld". In it, he, along with an assistant, Sebastian Moran, solves difficult riddles.
John EdmundGardner is another author whose trilogy featured Professor Moriarty. Finally, Anthony Horowitz, a popular writer, wrote several works based on Doyle's stories. His latest novel is simply called Moriarty.
The figure of a brilliant criminal, sinister opponent of the famous detective, arouses no less interest than Sherlock Holmes himself. And thanks to the actors who wonderfully embodied his image on the screen, viewers can imagine what the "Napoleon of the underworld" of the 19th century looked like - Professor Moriarty.
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