The face of the woman had haunted me for years. She was staring , pale faced and deathly, at the man. He was down in a chamber and was pleading with her. Then the lid had fallen- either by her hands or by fate. I remember shivering after watching the Musgrave Ritual in the Sherlock Holmes BBC series starring Jeremey Brett. I was thirteen. Some memories die hard.
By some ineffable quirk of my mind, I soon forgot the title but not the story. Later, even as I read and re-read my favourite Holmes stories, this story evaded my grasp. I kept searching for it for a long time, with frustrating failure. Until Google arrived.
The Butler and the tree and the mystery! The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual. I sat and watched as my thirteen year old self within me, recollected every emotion. Rachel Howells, Brunton…no fury like that of a woman scorned indeed!
The slightly touched in the head- blonde Jane, in her temptress role, I did not remember. Did the Indian censor board edit the series back then?The face of the housemaid as she coldly speaks to her ex lover, about his selfishness – that look I recollected, perfectly. But the face of the corpse floating was new to me! Does our memory blank out certain scenes and vividly preserve some others?
I went back to the original story and realised that the BBC version had been liberal in its interpretation. There was no dead body floating anywhere. Neither was Watson a part of the incident.
Intrigued, I ended up watching the 2013 brilliant Russian version of the Musgrave Ritual. Whoa! That one took me for a ride indeed! Absolutely unbelievable in its own take of the Ritual.Just like that oddly named Baskerville Hound!
I simply loved both. Especially the Hound.For turning a tale around its head, for mixing up stories, for a Holmes who plays his violin as it hangs on the wall, for his tortoise rimmed specs, for humour and sheer surprise!Was Moriarty wearing violet Ray-ban? And to think that I was waiting for phosphorous even as the Chancery papers and trains were all over the scene!!
That Russian series discovery was the best antidote to any childhood nightmare! Rachel Howells has lost her power over me. So has Brunton’s despair. I now remember Holmes in a kilt with Scottish pipers all around.
There is something to be said for that!