Two cultural phenomenons collide in Bob Clark’s Murder By Decree (1979) as sleuthing duo Sherlock Holmes and John Watson take on solving the murders of Jack the Ripper. A string of brutal mutilations of women has left the streets of London fearful; curiously, Holmes and Watson are excluded from the police investigation, leaving them to sneak around authorities as they attempt to solve the case themselves. They dig up multiple conspiracies revolving around the Jews, the “Radical Movement” and Freemasons, but eventually discover the biggest conspiracy capable of discrediting the entire government and monarchy. Murder By Decree warns against a government that will take any measure to preserve its longevity, and encourages the audience, through the example of Sherlock Holmes, to exercise scrutiny with the front put forth by such governments.
Topic Sentence 1: Annie Crook and the murdered women represent the humanity a self-serving government is willing to sacrifice for its own interests. This paragraph will discuss the significance of the female victims, the metaphor they represent, and their relationship with self-serving governments.
Topic Sentence 2: The illusions put on by self-serving governments can be dismantled through the analysis of signifiers, as demonstrated by Holmes in the movie. This paragraph will address the different clues Holmes finds throughout the movie that help to signify the government’s involvement.
Topic Sentence 3: In light of the Watergate scandal and cover-up that occurred seven years before the film’s production, the message of government skepticism was even more relevant in its time. This paragraph will address the social context surrounding the film: the political scandals and the surge of conspiracy paranoia.