Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Crime fiction-the real inspector hound/ the hound of the baskervilles

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The Hound of the Baskervilles, directed by David Atwood uses various methods to create a ‘cosy crime’ film. Tom Stoppard however deals with a different approach in his satirical play The Real Inspector Hound. Although these two media vary they each have a place in the crime fiction genre.

David Atwood uses scenery extensively to set up the ‘cosy crime’ feeling in The Hound of the Baskervilles. One of the main features is the near isolated manor in which the Baskervilles reside. The only other residence belonging to the Stapletons on the moor lands. The large Manor and isolated state is conclusive to the ‘cosy crime’ genre that sets the film up with a plot classic to its stereotype. The manor allows for the limited characters of ‘cosy crime’ with the suspect in close proximity of the victim or victims with no outside factors to interfere.

The cold misty English countryside surrounding Baskerville hall is another representation of the ‘cosy crime’ genre. Throughout the film the audience is shown panoramic scenes of English moors rolling with fog. This is used to disguise and confuse the characters in most ‘cosy crimes’ and adds an almost haunting touch to the film when mixed with the howls of the Hound.

These techniques differ to the ones used by tom Stoppard in The Real Inspector Hound. As The Real Inspector Hound is a play there is little room for scenery that shows the setting. The character of Mrs. Drudge, the housekeeper compensates for this. Her line Hello the drawing-room of Lady Muldoon’s country residence one morning in early spring sets the scene of a large country manor accompanied by the descriptions of the stage sets for the play. Mrs Drudges line later continues with …charming but isolated Muldoon Manor. You did well to get here before high water cuts us off for all practical purposes of the outside world. These comments while humorous and over the top are repeated several times throughout the play and establish what the author wants, that The Real Inspector Hound is a satire on ‘cosy crime.’

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Tom Stoppard also uses a radio announcement to set the scene Police are hampered by the deadly swamps and fog, but believe that a mad man spent last night on the deserted cottage on the cliffs. The image this creates emphasises the potential for mystery and danger around the house, which is again suited for the constraints of the ‘cosy crime’ genre of crime fiction.

The characters developed by David Atwood in The Hound of the Baskervilles and Tom Stoppard The Real Inspector Hound are mostly stereotypical to the ideal inhabitants of a ‘cosy crime’. The detective in The Hound of the Baskervilles is Sherlock Holmes. Like many ‘cosy crime’ detectives he is fairly erratic in behaviour. Holmes uses this to concentrate single-mindedly on the case and clues he is investigating. The scene in the film that supports this is where Watson is discussing Homes unusual traits with dinner party guests at the Stapletons. His reference to Holmes not being able to discuss philosophy yet can focus on a crime intensively expresses this sentiment. Holmes uses his typically unusual ways and eccentric abilities to solve the crime he is investigating in a manner that is exclusively his.

David Atwood’s Holmes also adheres to the arrogant, know-all detective type. This category of detective is common to ‘cosy crime’ as the protagonist is normally all too aware of their superb crime solving abilities. This is mirrored in The Hound of the Baskervilles where Sherlock Holmes turns up on the black tor in the surroundings of Baskerville Hall. When Watson finds Holmes, Watson is glad to see him, however Holmes takes an arrogant stance and says I’ve been expecting you. He then continues to explain how crucial his role in the case is. This section is just one example of Holmes ‘cosy crime’ arrogant attitude in where he considers himself above his colleague Watson.

Tom Stoppard’s Inspector Hound however, is a ridiculous parody of the ‘cosy crime.’ He enters the play as a peculiar man in large boots carrying a foghorn. In The Real Inspector Hound Tom Stoppard uses parody to send up the ‘Arrogant know-all detective type’ that belongs to ‘cosy crime’ as well as a variety of others. Stoppard has Hound mistake the victim under the lounge, then insist his mistake is correct.

Cynthia But who’s that? (corpse)

Hound Your husband.

Cynthia No its not

Hound Yes he is.

As seen above Stoppard uses his amusing script to get his view of the ‘cosy crime’ detective across.

The presence of British aristocracy is heavily felt through David Atwood’s The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Real Inspector Hound. This is an essential for the ‘cosy crime’ genre. The ‘lords and ladies’ go hand in hand with the large Manor mentioned earlier, as ‘cosy crime’ is where the traditional English dignity and etiquette is affronted by a violent crime. In The Hound of the Baskervilles the gentry is Sir Henry Baskerville. While he is not the typical English gentleman his mere presence is enough to count The Hound of the Baskervilles as a ‘cosy crime.’

Although Atwood’s gentry are fairly believable Tom Stoppard takes his aristocrats to the extreme. In his effort to create a satire of ‘cosy crime’ Stoppard has the character of Cynthia enters by walking of a tennis court in a cocktail dress, formally coiffured. He gets the desired effect with this entrance as it can be clearly seen the play is a parody on the conventions of ‘cosy crime.’

While the characters of the critics are non-existent in the restraints of ‘cosy crime’ Tom Stoppard uses his to establish that his play is based around crime fiction. In the opening scene the conversation goes as such

Birdboot …I mean its sort of a thriller, isn’t it?

Moon is it?

Birdboot that’s what I heard. Who killed thing? No one will leave the house.

Moon underneath?!? It’s a whodunit man! - Look at it!

In this conversation Stoppards play within a play is set to the rules of the ‘cosy crime’ leaving reader open to his satire.

The Red Hering is one of the most vital parts of ‘cosy crime’. This is important because is one way a composer draws their audience into the media presented. The red herring is planted to confuse both the character and the audience. This person’s actions are guilty until it is found they were a mere decoy.

David Atwood’s direction makes the audience and detectives suspect the butler in The Hound of The Baskervilles. This is because of the viewpoint offered in the movie when Holmes and Watson are chasing the carriage at the start of the film. The audience is only shown the carriage through Holmes and Watson’s point of view, never seeing the person in the carriage. The audience is also told that the character had a black beard, like the butler. This stance is further backed up by his suspicious behaviour. When the real reason behind this is revealed the audience is shown all the characters perspectives. The consequence of this is that they stop seeing the butler as a suspect and instead see him as the red herring. This is the most expected plot twist in the ‘cosy crime’ genre.

The red herring is less subtle in The Real Inspector Hound. The all the characters in the play are set up as decoys. Stoppard, sending up the concept of a red herring has all characters say at least once- I’ll kill you Simon Gascoyne, in various contexts. However unlike The Hound of The Baskervilles the innocent characters are cleared at the end.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a valuable text in the crime fiction genre. It is an excellent example of the ‘cosy crime’ section of crime fiction. The film is a make of a classic crime fiction work that has been the background for the crime fiction genre. The film also sticks to the conventions of classic crime fiction, which makes it valuable to compare more recent texts with. The Hound of the Baskervilles represents one of the most famous fictional Detectives, Sherlock Holmes which makes it an important film as it shows a significant interpretation of the classic detective.

The Real Inspector Hound however, shows how the conventions of crime fiction can be creatively manipulated to suit another purpose. The play allows its readers to see the sometimes-unrealistic world crime fiction occasionally portrays. Although the majority parts in the play are obscenely exaggerated the play holds value in the fact that it shows how ridiculous the crime fiction genre can be.

In conclusion The Hound of the Baskervilles, directed by David Atwood creates a serious portrayal of the ‘cosy crime’ film. Tom Stoppard however deals with a different approach and uses satire in his quest to ‘send up’ the conventions of ‘cosy crime’ in The Real Inspector Hound. Although these two media have completely different aims and outcomes they each have a valued place in the crime fiction genre.

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