Stepping Through Film: That Forest Scene from Sherlock Holmes

We won’t lie. The idea of a new Sherlock Holmes film on the way has us feeling nostalgic. It’s been eight years since Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows first came out, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to know Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are coming together once more.

The last Sherlock Holmes/Watson adventure saw the pair feverishly trying to prevent Professor Moriarty’s (Jared Harris’) crime spree across Europe. The high-octane adventure gave us all the twists and turns you’d come to expect from a Guy Richie film.

UK photographer Thomas Duke recreates iconic film moments just like this one for his Stepping Through Film account on Instagram. We caught up with him this month to talk about his visit to Bourne Woods.

Hey Thomas! Why did you choose to step into these scenes?

When I watched Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows for the first time I was simply astounded by the scene in the woods. The cinematography stands to this day as one of my absolute favourites in cinema. The slow-motion effects matched with the stunning symphony of Hans Zimmer is just beautiful to watch and listen to.

I love how the action sequences are done through Guy Ritchie‘s unique directing style. Couple that with the fact that Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law together on-screen really kept me captivated!

What was the process like setting up for/finding the locations?

I knew I was never going to find the exact trees they filmed and I stated that when I posted the original images back in 2017. What I wanted to do was simply re-create the scene in some way as a sort of ‘homage’ to the film.

I did my best to find the exact location though. I looked at the behind the scenes and studied anything and everything that people may have written about it during filming. It was very difficult though! Matching larger trees and paths etc. I just enjoyed going to explore it and I can’t wait to go back one day to improve my shots.

What impact do you think the environments had on these moments in the film?

The Bourne Woods is a very famous film location actually. It’s home to lots of huge blockbusters such as; Wonder Woman, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, Transformers: The Last Knight. All of these included practical effects and large crews so in that sense it can’t be that great for the area.

However, I do remember speaking with some people way back then. They spoke about how it is quite strict as to what can be done there because of course, they don’t want anything being damaged. The reason it is allowed is that it’s so perfect for filming and brings good word of mouth to the area to sustain the Bourne.

The final scene in Skyfall where the house is blown to pieces; they originally wanted to film this at the Bourne Woods, in the big ‘bowl in the middle but were turned away because the things they wanted to do were too risky for the surrounding environment. They instead filmed not too far away at Hankley Common, a large stretch of green fields. 

Stepping Through Film 2
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
Credit: Stepping Through Film (@steppingthroughfilm)

The Bourne Woods is gloomy, cinematic and full of opportunities for a great filmmaking session. Ritchie utilised that and made it his own. He used the landscape to its fullest by really weaving in and out of trees and using the speed of frames and camera movements to capture an exciting chase. The environment of the Bourne really lends itself to that type of scene.

For more photography from Thomas, visit his page here!

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