Sherlock Holmes is more than an ordinary beekeeper – as you’ll find out in this summer’s new movie, Mr Holmes. I watched it at a Calgary theatre with my wife this evening. I’m glad we went. We don’t get out enough and generally find films too loud, too violent, too silly, or too sappy. Mr Holmes was none of these.
78-year-old actor Ian McKellen (recently the wizard Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) plays 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes, a long-retired detective. As many of you know, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle forced Sherlock Holmes into a beekeeping retirement in the south of England. According to Doyle, Holmes toiled at bee farming and even wrote a popular beekeeping manual. The drama-mystery movie Mr Holmes (2015, BBC Films, et al.) stays quite true to beekeeping. The last film I’d seen that ties bees so nicely and accurately into the thread of a drama was Ulee’s Gold (1997, Orion Films). If you’re a beekeeper you will appreciate the finer details – the distinction between wasps and honey bees, the mystery of some disappearing bees, and the way Holmes lights his bee smoker with a roll cut from an old burlap sack. At one point in the movie, Sherlock Holmes took a book from his shelf and removed a significant photograph of a young woman. The book was Root’s 1945 ABC & XYZ of Beekeeping. I recognized it – I have the same edition in my own home library.
But don’t let me mislead you. This is not a beekeeping documentary. Or even a beekeeping movie. It is mostly a story of the redemption of an old man who regrets many of the things of his past and who is struggling to revive old memories. It’s a touching, well-acted drama. It’s not likely to stay in the theatres long, so get out and enjoy it with a friend or spouse before its run is over.