EFL Movie Study Guide for:
Sherlock Holmes: The Blind Banker
from www.krigline.com www.krigline.com.cn
I've provided a detailed summary below.
London, early 21st century
Sherlock Holmes (福尔摩斯) is a fictional detective created by Scottish
author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic
London-based “consulting detective”, Holmes is famous for his astute
logical reasoning, his powers of observation, his ability to use any
disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve
Holmes, who first appeared in publication in 1887, was
featured in four novels and 56 short stories (generally published in
serial form). The character grew tremendously in popularity with the
first series of short stories in Strand Magazine, beginning in 1891;
the last story appeared in 1927. The stories cover a period from around 1880
to 1914. All but four stories are narrated by Holmes's friend and
biographer, Dr. John H. Watson.
This BBC video allows Holmes to use his famous
detective skills in modern London.
People (Main characters):
Sherlock Holmes: a consulting detective
Dr John Watson: a former army doctor, now sharing a flat with Sherlock and
assisting him as a detective/biographer (via blog)
Soo Lin YAO: a young antiquities expert, who works at the National
Sebastian (Seb) Wilkes: a leader at an important international finance bank
Edward (Eddie) Van Coon: works at the bank’s Hong Kong desk
Detective Inspector Dimmock: a detective (probably new) at Scotland Yard
(the British police)
Brian Lukis: an international journalist and travel writer
Dr Sarah Sawyer: Watson’s boss at a small clinic (and would-be girlfriend)
Mrs. Hudson: Sherlock’s kind landlord, who lives downstairs (in this
episode, she brings food to Watson and Sarah at a thoughtful moment)
General Shan: a leader in a Chinese criminal organization (Black Lotus
Tong), and probably an assassin
Vocabulary: (terms marked with an asterisk are most
important for our class)
*acrobatics/acrobat: skillful movements that require great balance or
dexterity, like jumping/flipping through the air or balancing on a rope
*antiquities: things made in ancient times
ASBO: (BrE) anti-social behaviour order; a court order saying not to go
somewhere or not to see particular people, given after being found guilty of
destructive behavior like painting graffiti or hitting someone. “I was just
holding your paint but they’re giving me an ASBO!”
*assassin: someone paid to intentionally kill someone (often in connection
with organized crime/mob/tong activity)
*astute= clever: quickly able to gain a deep understanding of what
you see, esp. so you can see how this gives you an advantage
*to break in/broke in: to illegally enter a place, normally through a window
*burnished: polished or improved so that it shines; “In some pots, the clay
has been burnished by tea made over 400 years ago.”
Chip and PIN: a brand name for “smartcards” (bank cards with an electronic
chip) in the UK (although common since 2005
in the UK, such cards are not widely used in the US)
cipher: a system of secret writing (or code)
to be compromised: to be revealed or changed in an unwanted or dangerous way
(one’s health, security information, or safety equipment can all be
*to cover for sb: to do someone else’s work because he/she is absent (cover
sometimes also has the connotation of “to protect”)
curio: a small keepsake/object, thought to be interesting or unusual
*detective: sb whose job is to discover information about crime (many work
as police officers, though “private detectives” work independently)
*dexterity: advanced skill and speed in doing something (esp with your
hands). “We’re looking for an assassin who can climb, who can shin up a
rope. Where else would you find that level of dexterity?”
*disguise: something that changes the way you look to hide who you are, how
you feel, etc.; the act of doing this
*flat=apartment (BrE, coll)
*forensic (science/medicine/techniques): related to scientific methods used
to find or understand clues related to crime
*graffiti: words or pictures on walls or other public spaces, painted there
without permission “That graffiti was a message to someone.”
*incentive: sth that encourages you to study or work harder (such as a
*inquisitive= curious; keenly interested and asking many questions
locum: (BrE) professional who temporarily fills in for someone absent
*mundane= boring; ordinary and not interesting
peckish: (BrE coll) hungry for a snack. “He stopped on his way because he
got peckish.” (AmE: “…he had the munchies.”)
*physician= doctor (formal term)
(had) a row: (BrE coll) had an angry argument (esp with a friend or
*sarcastic/sarcasm: saying things that are the opposite of what you mean, in
order to make an unkind joke or to show that you are annoyed
*to season/seasoned: to use spices, tea, etc. AND time, in order to give
something a special taste, color or feeling. “The tea pot is seasoned by
repeatedly pouring tea over the surface.”
*serial (form, number, etc.): one after the other, often depending on the
one before; broken into parts for publication
*smuggler: sb who takes something illegally from one country to another.
*synopsis: a summary of the main events in a book, movie, etc
surgery: (BrE) a place where dental/medical patients are treated/seen (AmE:
a doctor’s office or medical clinic)
villian: in a story, this is an evil character or a troublemaker we are not
supposed to like
the scientific method: ask an objective question; do background research;
construct a hypothesis; gather observable, measurable evidence through
controlled, repeatable experiments; analyze the results, and adjust the
hypothesis accordingly, followed by more tests; publish the findings so
others can verify the results
Sentences/dialogs from the movie:
(see below the “discussion” section)
(adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blind_Banker)
At the National Antiquities Museum in
London, Chinese pottery expert, Soo Lin YAO, sees graffiti that
frightens her, and disappears. Meanwhile, Dr. John Watson is having
financial problems, and needs to find a paying job. Sherlock Holmes takes
Watson to "the bank", which turns out to be an important international
finance house. There Seb Wilkes, Sherlock’s old university friend, asks for
help and promises to pay a large fee if Sherlock can figure out the “hole”
in the bank’s security system. Near the top of this high-security building,
someone broke in and painted two meaningless symbols on the wall.
Sherlock realises that the graffiti was a
message meant for one man - Edward Van Coon of the Hong Kong desk, who (like
Soo Lin) has disappeared. Sherlock breaks into Van Coon's locked apartment
and finds him dead. The police, under Detective Inspector Dimmock, regard it
as a suicide, though Sherlock sees it as murder. Soon, journalist Brian
Lukis is also killed inside his locked apartment. When Holmes and Watson
investigate, they find similar mysterious graffiti.
Meanwhile, John obtains a job as locum
at a local surgery with Dr Sarah Sawyer, who warns John that the work
would be mundane (Watson: “Mundane is good sometimes. Mundane
Sherlock and John discover that Lukis and Van
Coon had both just returned from China, and both went to an oriental
curio shop "The Lucky Cat". There, John discovers that the “graffiti” is
ancient Chinese numerals. Sherlock breaks into Soo Lin's empty flat,
where he is attacked. Then they discover similar symbols at the museum and
on a railway yard wall, and struggle to decode the messages.
Next, Holmes discovers that Soo Lin has been
hiding at the Antiquities Museum; she explains that the code is the work of
the criminal "Black Lotus Tong", of which she was once a member.
Unfortunately, before she can decode the message she is killed (and we learn
that one of the assassins is Soo Lin's brother). But Sherlock
realises that Van Coon and Lukis were smuggling valuable antiquities from
China to London, and were killed because at least one of them stole
Sherlock figures out that the message is in
the form of a book cipher, and he and John spend the night going
through the first two victims' books trying to find the solution. John's
first day at work does not go well, as he falls asleep at the surgery.
Sarah covers for him, and Sherlock arranges a date at a local Chinese
circus, for the three of them. While John and Sarah enjoy the classic
escapology and acrobatics acts, Sherlock is attacked backstage; with
Sarah and John's help, they escape. Back at Baker Street, Holmes continues
to search for the solution to the book cipher, but John and Sarah are soon
kidnapped. The villains believe that John is Sherlock, and they
threaten to kill Sarah (with a crossbow) to find out if “Sherlock” has found
the missing treasure.
Fortunately, Sherlock finds the solution to
the code, tracks the villains to their hideout, and rescues John and Sarah.
He also realises that the elusive "treasure" (a jade hairpin) has been in
plain sight all the time.
Begin by describing Sherlock, his methods and his character/personality. Why
do you think this British character is popular in so many countries? As a
group, tell me about a famous fictional character from Chinese literature
(choose this character in advance). The author, Sir/Doctor Arthur Conan
Doyle, was knighted for his medical work, but he is now famous for creating
Sherlock Holmes. He said he got the idea from a professor who used similar
methods. Comment on these things (the influence of Doyle’s professor, how
you think he felt about these two careers, his legacy, etc.). Why are some
people “remembered” long after they die? Is this important? Do you think
this was their goal or did it just happen on its own? Talk about the film we
saw. What part did you like best/least? Tell me about a character other than
Sherlock. What do you think of the idea of taking an old fictional character
and bringing him back to life in the 21st century? What do the Holmes
stories have to offer the modern world?
Sentences/dialogs from the movie:
(imdb's website is a great place to find movie facts and more)
Dr John Watson: I didn't get the shopping.
Sherlock Holmes: What? Why not?
Watson: Because I had a row, in the shop, with a chip and PIN
Holmes: You - you had a row with a machine?
Watson: Sort of. It sat there and I shouted abuse. Have you got cash?
Sherlock: Take my [credit] card.
[at Wilkes’ office at the bank]
Holmes: You've been busy. Two trips around the world in one month?
Seb Wilkes: Right. You're doing that thing again. [to John] We were at uni
together, and this guy here had a trick he used to do. He could look at you
and tell you your whole life story… We hated it. We'd come down to breakfast
in the formal hall and this freak would know you'd been shagging the
Holmes: I simply observed.
Seb Wilkes: Go on, enlighten me. Two trips a month, flying all the way
around the world in a month, you’re quite right. Are you going to tell me
there’s a stain on my tie from some special kind of ketchup you can only buy
in Manhattan? Is it the mud on my shoes?
Holmes: No, I was just chatting with your secretary outside. She told me.
[Wilkes then tells Holmes that someone broke in without the security
computers knowing it, and without being seen on security cameras that shoot
a picture every 60 seconds. He didn’t steal anything, but left a message on
Seb Wilkes: We’ve got a hole in our security. Find it and we’ll pay you five
figures. Here’s an advance [payment check]. Tell me how he got in. There’s a
bigger one on its way.
Holmes: I don’t need an incentive, Sebastian. [Holmes walks away]
Watson: He’s kidding you, obviously. Shall I look after that [check] for
Watson [as they leave the bank]: You didn't talk to his secretary. You said
that just to irritate him. How did you know?
Holmes: Did you see his watch? The time was right, but the date was wrong.
Said two days ago. Crossed the date line twice and he didn’t alter it.
Watson: Within a month. How’d you get that?
Holmes: [It was a] New Breitling [watch]. Only came out this February.
Watson: So, should we sniff around here a bit longer?
Holmes: No… That graffiti was a message for someone at the bank, working on
the trading floors. We find the intended recipient and…
Watson: They’ll lead us to the person who sent it?
[Sherlock buzzes Van Coon's neighbour, after noticing that she had a new
name label, and thus had just moved in.]
Eddie's Neighbour: Hello?
Holmes: Hi, um, I live in the flat just below you. I don't think we've met!
Eddie's Neighbour: No, well, er, I just moved in.
Holmes: Actually, I just locked my keys in my flat!
Eddie's Neighbour: You want me to buzz you in?
Holmes: Yeah, and can I use your balcony?
[then we see Sherlock jumping off of her balcony onto the one below it]
Detective Inspector Dimmock: We’re obviously looking at a suicide.
Watson: It does seem the only explanation of all of the facts.
Holmes: Wrong. It’s one possible explanation of some of the facts.
You’ve got a solution that you like, but you are choosing to ignore anything
you see that doesn’t comply with it.
Holmes: The wound’s on the right side of his head.
Holmes: Van Coon was left-handed.
Holmes: I’m amazed you didn’t notice. All you have to do is look around this
flat. Coffee table on the left-hand side, coffee mug handle pointing to the
left. Power sockets: [he] habitually used the ones on the left. Pen and
paper on the left-hand side of the phone. Picked up with his right, took
messages with his left. Do you want me to go on? There’s a knife on the
breadboard with butter on the right side of the blade, because he used it
with his left. It’s highly unlikely that a left-handed man would shoot
himself in the right side of his head. Conclusion: someone broke in here and
murdered him; only explanation of all of the facts.
Dimmock: But the gun?
Holmes: He was waiting for the killer. He’d been threatened.
Dimmock: But if the door was locked from the inside, how did the killer get
Holmes: Good. You’re finally asking the right questions.
Holmes: The world’s run on codes and ciphers, John. From the million-pound
security system at the bank to the PIN machine you took exception to.
Cryptography inhabits our every waking moment. But it’s all computer
generated. Electronic codes, electronic ciphering methods. This is
different. It’s an ancient device. Modern code-breaking methods won’t
Watson: Where are we headed?
Holmes: I need to ask some advice.
Watson: What? Sorry?
Holmes: You heard me perfectly, I'm not saying it again. On painting [i.e.,
graffiti]. I need to talk to an expert.
Watson [speaking into a mail slot, after Sherlock has broken into another
flat, without letting John in] Do you think you could let me in this time?
Can you not keep doing this, please?
Holmes [yelling to the distant Watson]: I’m not the first. Somebody’s been
in here before me. Size 8 feet; small but athletic.
Watson [to himself]: I’m wasting my breath.
Holmes [to himself]: Strong hands. Our acrobat. Why didn’t he close
the window when he left? Oh, stupid! Obvious. He’s still here.
[The attacker jumps out and starts to strangle Holmes. Watson is still
Watson [into the mail slot]: Anytime you want to include me… (I’d be glad to
help). [mocking Sherlock angrily] ‘No, I'm Sherlock Holmes and I always work
alone because no-one can compete with my massive intellect!’
[Watson finds a wall full of similar graffiti, but someone paints it over
before Sherlock can arrive.]
Watson: I don’t understand it. It was here 10 minutes ago.
Holmes: Somebody doesn’t want me to see it. John, I need you to concentrate.
Close your eyes. [He starts spinning Watson]
Watson: Why? What are you doing?
Holmes: I need you to maximize your visual memory. Try to picture what you
saw. Can you remember it?
Sherlock: Can you remember it?
Watson: Yes, definitely.
Sherlock: How much can you remember? Because the average human memory on
visual matters is only 62% accurate.
Watson: Well, don’t worry. I remember all of it. Well, at least I would, if
I could get to my pockets. I took a photograph.
Holmes: I need to get some air - we're going out tonight.
Watson: Actually, I've got a date.
Watson: It's where two people who like each other go out and have fun?
Holmes: That's what I was suggesting.
Watson: No, it wasn't. At least I hope not.
Holmes: Where are you taking her?
Holmes: Dull, boring, predictable. Why don’t you try this [Yellow Dragon
Circus]. In London for one night only.
Watson [laughing]: Thanks, but I don’t come to you for dating advice. [But
in the next shot you see them going to the circus.]
Watson: This is not a circus. Look at this [small] crowd. This is art.
Holmes: This is not their day job.
Watson [sarcastically]: Sorry, I forgot, they’re not a circus,
they’re a gang of international smugglers.
Holmes [after the show starts]: Classic Chinese escapology act. The
crossbow’s on a delicate string. The warrior has to escape his bonds before
it fires. She splits the sandbag, the sand pours out. Gradually, the weight
lowers into the bowl.
[at Holmes’ apartment, after talking to the police]
Sarah: So this is what you do. You and John. You solve puzzles for a living.
Holmes: Consulting detective.
Sarah: What are these [graffiti] squiggles?
Holmes: They’re numbers. An ancient Chinese dialect.
Sarah: So these numbers, it's a cypher?
Holmes [annoyed]: Exactly.
Sarah: And each pair of numbers is a word?
Holmes: How did you know that?
Sarah: Two words have already been translated.
[General Shan thinks that Watson is Holmes, due to various circumstantial
Shan: If we wanted to kill you, Mr. Holmes, we would have done it by now. We
just wanted to make you inquisitive. Do you have it?
Watson: Do I have what?
Shan: The treasure.
Watson: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Shan: I would prefer to make certain. Everything in the West has its price.
And the price for her life [pointing to Sarah], is information. Where’s the
hairpin? The Empress pin, valued at £9 million sterling? We already had a
buyer in the West. And then one of our people was greedy. He took it,
brought it back to London. And you, Mr. Holmes, have been searching.
Shan [speaking to her computer—we can’t see who is listening; he replies by
typing]: Without you, without your assistance, we would not have found
passage into London. You have my thanks.
Mystery person (M): Gratitude is meaningless. It is only the expectation of
Shan: We did not anticipate… We did not know this man would come. This
Sherlock Holmes. And now your safety is compromised.
M: They cannot trace this back to me.
Shan: I will not reveal your identity.
M: I am certain.