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The Falls of the Reichenbach

 
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Practical set built at Bottleyard Studios,
Whitchurch Lane, Bristol BS14 0BH
 
 
 
 

'It is indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by glistening coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip.'

Evocative and terrifying in equal measure, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's description of The Falls of the Reichenbach are etched forever in the minds of readers of his work. They are, of course, the place where Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty entered into mortal combat, plunging into the abyss and finding their apparent deaths. Intent on killing his creation, Doyle was inspired to use a waterfall located near to the village of Meiringen in the Bernese Alps as the setting. The rest is indeed history and classic fiction, and today a plaque is mounted on the path near to the falls, marking the spot where Holmes and Moriarty would have fought in the story.

Being a television series set in the modern day, the use of the Falls as the site of Sherlock's apparent demise in The Reichenbach Fall in Series Two were potentially problematic. Setting The Abominable Bride in the Victorian period however made finally staging the scene an irresistible opportunity for Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. The Falls of the Reichenbach as they appear on screen are however a practical set, built on a soundstage at the Bottleyard Studios in Bristol. A faux rock face was built in a water tank, where water could be pumped from below to create the waterfall, with the set extended and amplified through the use of computer generated imagery. Safety harness lines and cables above the set allowed Sherlock to finally make his iconic dive into the raging torrent at last, and to break free of the fantasy he had created inside his Mind Palace.

Episodes The Reichenbach Falls has appeared in

 
The Abominable Bride (Specials)

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