Mental casting


As I wrote some a few days ago, life of people without imagination must be a very boring one. If, to the lack of imagination you add a total lack of interest in reading, according to my point of view an amoeba has a more amusing existance. But, as usual, I am rambling. The fact is that when I read, I tend to imagine myself very clearly the features of the character I’m reading about; because it is described with absolute precision by the writer or because I associate it with an actor or actress.

I’m reading now the first volume of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and there is a character, precisely in “The Adventure of the Crooked Man” that I’ve seen in my mind played by Richard Armitage. Ok, I know, no big deal given that since I first saw him last December (check previous post… I always arrive late) in North & South he commands now my top-ten list of obsessions, category “gorgeous human beings”; and not a big deal also given that in two previous adventures appear two characters with the surname “Armitage”. Whatever might the reason be, I could not help it. Reading about Corporal Henry Wood and seeing him with Richard Armitage face and body (plus a little bit of prosthetics… he’s used to them after all) came to me as something obvious and automatic.

This is how he starts to relate his story to Sherlock Holmes. Useless to underline that the psychological effect is complete is you succeed to hear the very voice in your head.

“It was in this way, sir. You see me now with my back like a camel and my ribs all awry, but there was a time when Corporal Henry Wood was the smartest man in the 117th Foot. We were in India then, in cantonments, at a place we’ll call Burthee. Barclay, who died the other day, was sergeant in the same company as myself, and the belle of the regiment –aye, and the finest girl that ever had the breath of life between her lips—was Nancy Devoy, the daughter of the colour-sergeant. There were two men who loved her, and one whom she loved; and you’ll smile when you look at this poor thing huddled before the fire, and hear me say that it was for my good looks that she loved me.

Well, though I had her heart, her father was set upon her marrying Barclay. I was a harum-scarum, reckless lad, and he had had an education, and was already marked for the sword belt. But the girl held true to me, and it seemed that I would have had her, when the Mutiny broke out, and all Hell was loose in the country.”

When Corporal Wood tells this story to Sherlock Holmes, thirty years have passed since him and Nancy Devoy loved each other. She thinks that he’s dead, because after Barclay’s treason, he is captured by the rebels, held as prisoner and tortured for years. He finally manages to scape, seriously maimed and crooked, wanders through India and Afghanistan and  returns to London, where Nancy sees him in the street. He wants to revenge on Barclay, but there’s no need of that, as he dies after an stroke as soon as he sees Wood.

Now, continuing to build fantasy plots and scripts in your head, what about placing this story in the fourth season of Sherlock? Of course, as Mr. Gattiss and Mr. Moffatt always do, some adaptations to our days will have to be made. Let’s say for instance that we are talking not of India but some other conflict at the other side of the world, that Nancy is not a “belle” of the regiment but, a journalist in her first job as a war correspondent and that instead of thirty, twenty years have passed since life has separated Henry from Nancy. It would be an astounding television experience: Thorin, Bilbo Baggins and Smaug together again. And Rebecca Hall playing Nancy Devoy. I would love to see her working with Richard Armitage.

 Isn’t imagination a great thing? The idea seems so attractive that I would love to write the script. If I was a writer.


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