Clip of the Day: The Great Mouse Detective, Big Ben Sequence
Hey Everyone. In honor of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows coming out this weekend, today’s Clip of the Day comes from what I feel is one of the more underrated Disney films and one that’s gotten some love of this site already, The Great Mouse Detective. While the Robert Downey Jr. films are crowdpleasers, and the 2nd series of the current Stephen Moffat run of Sherlock Holmes on BBC is one of the more anticipated seasons of UK television, I always felt that this film is a great primer to introduce kids to Holmes. And since Sherlock Holmes has been endlessly copied, ripped off, homaged and parodied through film and television endlessly, why not let Disney take a crack at it? If The Black Cauldron was their Batman and Robin, then this film was their Blade. It’s what kept them alive and was their first step in the right direction. But the film itself gets all the references and homages to the Holmes mythology (which also includes a quick audio cameo from Basil Rathbone as Holmes himself), while also adding new elements (Holmes’ OCD/Aspberger tendencies) that every other adaptation since has included.
The clip here is of the films most famous scene, the climactic and iconic Big Ben sequence. This sequence was the first major use of computer animation in a feature length animated film. And from the immense sense of scale and tension that the scene has, you can feel the wheels turning on the technological breakthroughs in animation that were to follow. And even when it shifts back into traditional cel animation, that immense sense of scale continues as the fight goes from the gears to the hands of the clock. The trick that the Disney animators used in order to create riveting action sequences was that they would always block and storyboard it from the perspective of the character that would lose. Which in this case was an ingenious sleight of hand so that when the reference to the infamous Reichenbach Falls moment in the Holmes mythology occurs, you genuinely believe that both of them are dead. It’s a great moment in a vastly underrated film in the Disney canon.