Pilgrims Re-enact Holmes-Moriarty Duel
May. 09, 1987
MEIRINGEN, Switzerland (AP) _ Sherlock Holmes might have thought he had seen the last of his archenemy Professor James Moriarty.
But 94 years after Holmes sent Moriarty tumbling down the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, the two came back Friday to re-enact the duel.
Holmes and Moriarty, as played by members of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, were part of a group of about 70 Holmes buffs who spent 10 days on a pilgrimage through Switzerland.
The trip marked the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and their 221B Baker Street address in the novel ''A Study in Scarlet.''
The journey ended with a trip by bus and funicular from Meiringen to nearby Reichenbach Falls, the setting for Arthur Conan Doyle's story ''The Final Problem.''
In that story, Conan Doyle wanted to kill off Holmes, already a popular character, so he would have more time to write historical novels.
He left the reader with the impression that Holmes and Moriarty, locked in a fatal grip, both fell into ''that dreadful cauldron of swirling water and seething foam.''
But the public outcry was so great that Conan Doyle finally resurrected Holmes in ''The Adventure of the Empty House'' published nearly a decade later, in 1903.
In that story, Holmes explains to his biographer and best friend, Dr. John H. Watson, how he had used ''baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling,'' to free himself from Moriarty's grip and save himself from following the villain into the waterfall.
The re-enactment Friday was essentially true to the story, with allowances made for modern technology.
Holmes, played by British writer Philip Potter, and Moriarty, played by retired British lawyer Tony Howlett, staged their struggle near the falls several times for the television cameras.
Dummies dressed as Holmes and Moriarty were then thrown over the 130-yard falls.
''I'm going to my Waterloo,'' cried Moriarty, known as ''the Napoleon of crime.''
After lunch, Holmes was ''resurrected'' at the bottom of the falls. A skydiver jumped from a helicopter, landed on target and quickly changed places with Potter, who declared ''I, Sherlock Holmes, am alive.''
The Holmes fans all were dressed as characters from Sherlock Holmes stories.
Moriarty wore a long black cape and top hat, while Dr. Watson, played by British economic analyst Tim Owen, wore a morning coat, spats, top hat and stethoscope.
Most participants were British, with several also from the United States, Belgium, Denmark, West Germany and Japan.
Some journalists also dressed up, including a Belgian television crew wearing Sherlock Holmes outfits and a Japanese anchorwoman wearing a long blue dress complete with bustle.
Dame Jean Conan Doyle, 74, the youngest daughter and last surviving offspring of Arthur Conan Doyle, attended Friday's activities.
''I'm sure he would have been pleased that everyone is having such fun,'' she said.