Friday, December 23, 2011

Blitzchess & Chaos: Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows

Please see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows before you read this post because I really don't won't to ruin the film for you; this is a great film to see on the big screen, with your pals, enjoy it while it plays and then dissect it after wards! I am assuming that you have read both Irene Adler vs Mary Morstan: the Women Of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes & the Temple Of the Four Orders. I loved A Game of Shadows and I can't wait to see it again!
As I noted earlier, I think the reason why critics are giving A Game of Shadows such a difficult time is two-fold: first, they are mis-remembering their reception of Guy Ritchie's original Sherlock Holmes of 2009; its a film that grew on them after they posted their reviews but, my point is, they acted like they didn't like that one, either and now, comparing A Game of Shadows to Sherlock Holmes, it's like the first one was their greatest movie of all time, but they're not remembering how much they dissed Sherlock Holmes when it initially came out. Secondly, A Game of Shadows is true, genuine chaos theory, not the glitzy-glam, rock-n-roll introduction into pop culture it had in Jurassic Park, but the serious mathematical and social implications of the theory. Since chaos theory has become so indoctrinated into culture, film critics are taking for granted what the film is doing and how well it is doing it.
The larger frame of chaos theory in which the film exists, the balance point of equilibrium maintaining the whole structure, is between the mathematical professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) and the poor fortune-teller Madame Simza (Noomi Rapace): a world-player and an insignificant vagabond; a multi-millionaire and a gypsy, an international diplomat and a nomad. What thread connects them? Simza's brother, who has agreed to commit an assassination for Moriarty to start an international war. As Holmes tells Simza (who is NOT Holmes' love interest in the film), "I see everything, that is my curse," Holmes symbolically sees everything because he's been sitting in on Moriarty's lectures (in disguise, of course) and learning how the professor sees everything so it's the Sherlockian perspective of knowing what Moriarty knows, seeing as Moriarty sees.
This is one of the opening shots, reminding us of the volatile world in which we live, and that's why chaos theory, with its elaborate scheme of connections and inter-connectivity is an appropriate vehicle. Further, chaos theory is appropriate for Sherlock Holmes; in fact, I doubt any other theory is big enough to accommodate Holmes except chaos, because, like Holmes, chaos knows and extends itself into everything. The breadth of knowledge and skill the detective has requires a theory broad and deep, and the new writers for A Game of Shadows knew just where to go.
Watson narrates the story because Sherlock Holmes has died, and Watson wants their last adventure together to be remembered, and the sacrifice his best friend made for the stability of world peace to endure. The film opens in 1891, many years before World War I would erupt on July 28, 1914, but the entrance onto that threshold begins in A Game of Shadows. Why is this important? Holmes tells us the "thesis" steering Moriarty in his evil plot: "He owns the supply and now he will create the demand," referring to the seemingly unconnected deaths of an opium dealer and a cotton tycoon, the buying up of the steel industry and a gun business after the owners' deaths are all connected to "war on an industrial level" which Moriarty plans to wage.
In the  beginning of the film, Holmes, dressed as an opium smoker lies, on the street, supposedly drugged when Irene Adler walks by him. He follows her and relates to her that three men have been following her for 30 minutes, and then she tells him that 4 men are her escorts. They then make a dinner date for 8 o'clock that night and she tells her escorts not to damage his face, and they proceed to beat up Holmes. Holmes manages the four men just in time to keep Irene from getting blown up in an explosion similar to the one pictured above. The importance of this scene is, just as in Sherlock Holmes when Holmes dresses as a beggar with an eye patch and follows her to Moriarty's carriage to discover who she is working for, she realizes it too late; typical of Irene, she realizes everything too late for it to be able to do her any good, and this is the downfall of those who lack wisdom: they are overconfident in themselves and fail to believe anyone else is as talented as they themselves.
War, as chaos theory has taught us, is not just the atrocity of killing soldiers; it's not just generals giving orders, it's not just outnumbering the opponent, it's not one leader against another leader. War is starvation, bad weather, incompetence, brilliance, landscapes and geography, war is surgery and bandages, war is fuel and energy lines, war is spy craft and intelligence, war is the personality and confidence of egomaniacs and businessmen, war is the front line and the thin red line, and how an incoming tide can effect a battle plan or how a lack of fuel can keep the "desert fox" from victory, . . . all that comes from what chaos theory has taught us about the world: everything is connected and effects everything else, and Moriarty knows that and that is why he has bought up the cotton (for bandages and uniforms), opium (medicine), steel (equipment) and guns (arming soldiers) so he can profit from humanity's "insatiable desire for conflict."
Do you remember in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes when Irene breaks into Sherlock's apartment and he slams down a photograph of her onto a table, then, as she leaves, she puts it back upright, then as he leaves he puts it back down? This is the outfit she wears in that photograph (and she wears it later in Sherlock Holmes as well, in the upstairs room of The Punchbowl where he boxes and he explains to Irene and Watson why Blackwood is going to bomb Parliament). Why is this outfit important? Blue usually symbolizes wisdom, but not in this case, it means depression, and specifically, Irene is depressed about working for Moriarty (that's why she wants to meet in a public restaurant where she believes she will be safe, because she knows she is in danger, and that danger is the source of her depression). When the photograph Holmes has was taken, however, Irene wasn't as advanced in the path of sin and self-destruction as she is now, but Holmes retaining that photo of her presents to him, unconsciously his ideal of her, that she could be reformed (at least a little) and they could have a future together, but knowing that she broke into his apartment and his first thought was to check his safe, he realizes, putting that photograph of her face down, that she has no face anymore, she has abandoned herself to a life of crime and has lost herself in it. The purpose of her wearing this same dress is to remind us that we ourselves are not photographs, we change, for better and for worse, and if it's for the worst, we'll end up like Irene: dead.
Just as we saw the Temple of the Four Orders in Sherlock Holmes take order (such as the order that exists in Christianity, for example) and pervert it, literally turn it upside down, so Moriarty takes the laws of math and capitalism and perverts them to his own ends against the rest of humanity. An example of how lethal his calculations are is the death of Irene Adler (we are at least led to believe she dies, I kept expecting Moriarty to bring her out to use against Holmes but that didn't happen, at least not in this one). As I noted in Sherlock Holmes and the Temple of the Four Orders, in our first introduction to Irene, she's talking but we don't hear what she's saying; in the second introduction, we hear her words, but we don't see her; translated, this means that she is not where her words are, or, in other words, her words are not a part of her, she's a liar.
Irene had passed Holmes dressed as the opium smoker earlier, then set her 4 escorts on him so she could deliver a bomb to a plastic surgeon during an art auction. The surgeon insisted that Irene stay while he unwrapped the package and when he and Irene realized it was a bomb Holmes turns up to save her,... again. This is one of many scenes invoking other movies. In this specific scene, an art auction is going on when it's discovered there is a bomb in the room, which summons Cary Grant's character from Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest and Paul Newman's character in Hitchcock's Torn Curtain. Like in Mandelbrot sets, there is action occurring within action: the action of the art auction is undermined by the drama of the bomb. Like Grant and Newman, Holmes links the two events to achieve a satisfactory resolution. But the reproduction of Hitchcock's signature style in A Game of Shadows is important for another reason: like the action within the action itself, now there are movies within movies, Torn Curtain within North by Northwest within A Game of Shadows; extending that tradition and reproduction is itself an act of chaos.
In the clip below, Irene meets Moriarty at a restaurant where she is to have dinner with Holmes later that night. She was to have delivered a letter that Holmes stole from her but she doesn't tell Moriarty that, she lies to "protect Holmes" but it doesn't do any good; before she begins speaking to Moriarty (when the clip below opens) she asks that a fresh pot of tea be brought to her because she fears poisoning but that doesn't do any good:
Moriarty now tells Irene that she is no longer bound to employment with him. She gets up to leave and starts stumbling out, taking out her handkerchief and coughing blood into it, falling and gasping for air. Later, Moriarty gives Holmes the blood-stained handkerchief (white with the large I within the A of her initials) and tells Holmes that she died from a rare form of tuberculosis. It was probably in the moment when the waiter poured the tea through the strainer. Why is this important? It mirrors the truth about Irene, which is the only way to get truth out of her. Irene is like the waiter serving her tea: Irene serves up a "filtered" truth to Moriarty about what happened to the letter; Irene not knowing what was contained within the letter and how important it is to Moriarty, is like Irene not knowing the virus in the tea and how deadly it is to her. The "white lie" is as deadly to Moriarty as the tuberculosis virus is to Irene (because a corpse turns white after death, that is why a white lie is deadly, it resembles a corpse).
We're not used to seeing Irene wearing gloves, and the black gloves she wears in this scene signifies that her strength (arms are a symbol of strength) has died (black is the color of death) and she has nothing left with which to defend herself from Moriarty. It's not just that Irene has succumbed to her feelings for Holmes, it's also because she has maximized her potential for evil, like a vessel that is completely full of rot and filth, she just can't hold anymore; Moriarty, in not being wise, looks for a "reason" of betrayal that he can understand: weakness from emotions. Not being able to accurately diagnose the cause of Irene's betrayal means that he will also inaccurately diagnose what Holmes is willing to do to stop him and why.
Because  tuberculosis is a disease which is very sensitive to "initial conditions," (the health of the patient when they first contract the virus, any genetic tendencies towards developing tuberculosis in family history, the method in which it is contracted, the particular strand they contract, etc.) Irene's death by tuberculosis provides another angle on chaos theory for us: the reason it was a fast acting virus is because, in lying, Irene was "open" to receiving the virus, in other words, a lie is a sin, which is a form of death to our soul, so Irene was all ready sick and it didn't take much for the virus to begin acting
The expensive top hat, suit, vest and professorship provides the "urban camouflage" Moriarty wears to blend into the background of a Europe on the brink of war. Please note the castle in the background of the image above, to the right of Professor Moriarty, it's the setting for the chess game between he and Holmes.
Why does Moriarty not seem evil enough to some critics?
Because he's just like the business men of today.
In the 2009 Sherlock Holmes, the villain, Lord Blackwood, had a crooked tooth; since the teeth symbolize the appetites (as a part of the mouth) we can understand Blackwood's appetites to be "crooked" like his tooth; in A Game of Shadows, Moriarty has a gap between his two front teeth; why? The gap symbolizes the natural gap in the laws of math, physics and capitalism which Moriarty exploits to satisfy his appetites. It's that he's a business man par excellence that is so villainous; it's that he's so well-versed in mathematics and the law of physics, employing them for assassinations that's so villainous. That critics don't think he's evil enough is validation of his perfected "urban camouflage" inspiring Holmes to come up with his own.
One of two times in A Game of Shadows that Holmes wears what he describes as "urban camouflage" which perfectly blends him into the background. The purpose, besides providing amusement at Watson's cost, is to balance the urban camouflage worn by Moriarty that permits him to move from the academic arena into the diplomatic arena and into the business arena, which only Holmes is able to track. On a larger scale, it recognizes that we are all a part of the system, anything we do alters the system, but, being a part of the system, that makes it extremely difficult to make accurate observations about it because you can never totally divorce yourself from a situation and Moriarty proves this to Holmes when Holmes makes a mistake.
What does Irene's TB virus, Moriarty's tooth and Holmes' urban camouflage all have in common?
Chaos theory and Mandelbrot sets.
A great example of a Mandelbrot set is a Russian doll: there is a smaller doll within a larger doll, and that doll is within a larger doll and that doll is within a larger doll; they each look exactly alike and have the same characteristics, yet they encompass each other and, unless you open it up, you don't know what it contains. These "repeating patterns" are what the phrase "History repeats itself," is all about. Another good example is Aronofsky's film Pi, when he's looking for the number to start repeating itself, he's searching for the outer border of the reality in which we live, and knowing where that border is gives him the advantage of knowing where he is in relationship to that border. We could say that this is a bit like fortune-telling, which is why Simza is a fortune-teller.
Watson has purchased a car, seemingly the only one in London, in which they drive to meet Holmes' brother, Mycroft for Watson's stag party. Why is there a car in the film and why is it Watson and Holmes driving it? Please note the goggles they wear, emphasizing their eyesight. The machinery of the car reflects the greater machinery of war Moriarty attempts to set in motion for the destruction of humanity (and his own profit) whereas Watson and Holmes (in an invention that will revolutionize the modern world) are themselves the vehicles of civilization because they are sacrificing themselves for a greater good, not Moriarty who sacrifices humanity for his own good. Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows provides us with an important moral lesson: all civilization will benefit when we work together towards greater goods; all civilization will suffer when we think only of ourselves, as, for example, in Margin Call.
Herein is a perfect example of the mathematical face of chaos. Holmes has met with Moriarty and Moriarty threatened Holmes that if Holmes doesn't stay out of his way, Moriarty will kill Watson and Mary. Holmes "disguises" himself (I'll discuss that below) and saves Watson and Mary, but the worst of Moriarty's attack is still to come, so Holmes has worked out a plan to save Mary:
"I timed it perfectly," is not a mere matter of timing (as Holmes and Watson analyze the scene of an assassination by Sebastian Moran later in the film) there is the wind, the horizontal velocity, the vertical velocity, the speed of a train, the depth of the water below, the potential struggle which Mary might have physically put up before being pushed out of the train, all these are factors which chaos theory has taught us to include in our calculations because it effects the outcome of the equation. Later, Sebastian Moran, one of the best shooters in all Europe, has killed a diplomat and Watson and Holmes analyze the scene of his shooting the way we have just analyzed the scene of Holmes "saving Mary."
The morning after Watson's stag party and meeting Madame Simza. Mary triumphs over Irene Adler, as I pointed out in my post comparing the two women, and while we have seen Irene die, we now see Mary, not only wedded, but secure, happy and successful in her aiding of Holmes and the police in bringing down Moriarty. Why is it Mary to whom Holmes sends the deciphering codes? Think of this symbolically, if you will: Mary still hasn't learned how to decipher Holmes, and Holmes giving her a role to play in bringing down Moriarty brings up Mary to Holmes' level and aids her in understanding what Holmes does so she will come to trust him.
There's another feature of chaos theory which this scene with Mary points out to us: language.
It seems strange, doesn't it, that there can be any variance in language: it is so stable, yet the word "trust" is what's unstable in this conversation Holmes and Mary have. "Do you trust me?" Holmes asks Mary, and she replies, "No." What Holmes means by "trust" is, "Do you have confidence that I can work out a plan to preserve you and get you out of risk's way?" Why doesn't Mary understand what Holmes is really saying to her? Because she understands "trust" to mean that trust based on love for the other person: Mary thinks Holmes asks her, "Do you believe that I love  you more than myself and have only your greatest good in mind for you?" and of course she doesn't believe that, knowing how Holmes tried to sabotage their relationship.
"Granted, it's not my best disguise," why is this not his best disguise? We know from watching Holmes that he does an excellent job disguising himself (and critics complain that he wears too many disguises in this film but that is to highlight how bad this disguise is) so why is this one so "bad?" Because it's so good, and it's not disguising, rather, it's revealing, and I mean that in a good way. The red lipstick Holmes wears emphasizes his mouth, which could easily be a sign of appetites, for example, if Irene Adler were wearing red lipstick, however, since it's Holmes wearing it, we can take it to mean that his "words are of love," that what he says is coming from his love for Watson and Mary. The blue eyeshadow highlights his eyes, so (since blue is the color of wisdom) he sees what needs to be done to protect the two of them. His dress not covering his muscular arms combines the feminine and the masculine, so, since it is his arms that are showing (and arms symbolize strength) we can conclude that his strength in this scene comes from his ability to recognize his emotions and love for Watson and Mary and that's his motivation for protecting them. Homes is not disguising his emotions, he is revealing them. I am sure that you recall from Sherlock Holmes when Holmes puts his violin bow in Watson's face and they argue, "Get that out of my face," which this scene invokes, which is to reverse their roles, literally, because Watson is the more caring of the two and Holmes the more "instrumental" and now Watson can't understand this new light in which he is seeing Holmes because he's not used to it and that makes it difficult for Watson to trust Holmes although Holmes truly has only the best intentions for Watson in mind and heart.
How does this illustrate chaos for us?
"Trust" should be a stable word, it's only a word, after all, yet their personalities, their experiences, their understanding of their own selves and of what they perceive of the other, all this goes into "coloring" what Holmes means and what Mary means by "trust, and that's why, in the same scene, Watson gets upset by Holmes, because they have different ideas of  "killing" Mary: for Watson, putting Mary in harm's way, i.e., pushing her out of the train, was harming her, but allowing her to remain was, for Holmes, harming her.
This is a great shot: please note how the light--symbolic of truth--directs us to his eyes so we can see what Holmes sees and why he is able to see it. In some ways, you can compare the life and education of Sherlock Homes to Groundhog Day: Groundhog Day taught us to make good use of our time and to do things for others, to utilize our skills and talents to their fullest possible potential and Sherlock Holmes is the living proof of that lesson.
Before we discuss Mycroft and Moriarty, let us take a moment and discuss two important aspects of Holmes brought out in this film. First, in the shot just above, please note the orange scarf he wears around his neck: orange is the color of life because it combines yellow (the color of gold which invokes royalty, hence our inherent dignity) and red (the color of appetites but also the color of love) and so orange is the color of vibrancy. Why doe Holmes wear this in A Game of Shadows? This challenge Moriarty presents has enlivened Holmes and given him "a new life" after the loss of Watson's friendship in his immediate life. As usual, the neck indicates for us how we are led, what "yoke" or leash do we have? The challenges and risks associated with this case of Moriarty has brought out the best in Holmes (at least regarding his skills and talents) and he's being led by that which gives him life, or, in other words, will help him fulfill his destiny, which Moriarty's case is doing: everything about Holmes has been created for this ultimate battle and Holmes is willing to completely give himself up for it which this clip below emphasizes:
In Sherlock Holmes, he was drinking medicine meant for eye surgery, and as I pointed out, that was because, symbolically, the eyes symbolize wisdom, so Holmes was readying himself for the case of Blackwood to "widen his gaze" so he could see what Blackwood was up to. In A Game of Shadows, we see that, just as he's ecstatic and at the peak of life because of what this case has done for him, he's drinking embalming fluid because he also knows how close to death he will come and so he's "taking in" ways of "preserving" himself in the upcoming battle.
Now we move onto Mycroft in this clip in which we are first introduced to him:
What we have in this scene, in our introduction to Holmes' brother Mycroft, is the affirmation of Holmes' own intelligence because his brother exhibits it, too. Their banter in observation over each other, and picking up clues about where they have been and trying to outdo each other in keenness offers us a further example of chaos in A Game of Shadows, for example, the chimney needing to be cleaned out results in the soot staining Holmes' clothes and face; Mycroft changing his brand of soap either results in the chafing of his skin or has healed chafing that was resulting from his old soap. The point is, everything produces a detectable result, an effect, (popularly known as the Butterfly Effect, e.g., even the flapping of the wings of a butterfly can have an effect on the environment), and it is Holmes' signature style to see the effect and induce the cause; Moriarty will use this against Holmes, knowing how Holmes works. The scene below provides us with some f the difficulties of what Holmes encounters with this case:
The plants which Holmes grows demonstrates how meticulous he is in researching every possible lead that will help to to discover a break-down in the system; Watson's inability to perceive Holmes hiding in the background reflects us and our inability, when looking at a vast system (like seemingly unrelated crimes and deaths) to pick out what "stands out" what "doesn't belong" or what is the clue or the connecting thread? Holmes' ability to do this is his greatest weapon against Moriarty. A Game of Shadows, however, instructs us that we ourselves must be able to do this as well, and examine, as Holmes does, everything going on in the world and see if it is not some part of a larger design.
Watson, Mycroft and Simza in Switzerland before the peace summit (Trish kindly pointed this out and upon seeing the film a second time, realized that my earlier identification of the scene as being in Mycroft's home was totally mistaken). Please note, above Mycroft's head, to our left, is a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Holmes having "saved Mary" on the train, and Mycroft having been in a boat in the water waiting to fish her out then taking her into his custody and protecting her in his home, really symbolizes the protection of the Church. Something like the placement of that picture isn't accidental (like the St. Thomas picture in Sir Thomas' bedroom in Sherlock Holmes). Please note also that the picture is up high, above everything else and we can take that symbolically: above everything else in A Game of Shadows, is God and heaven, the angels and the saints and the genuine purpose for which we were made and created. Still don't believe me, do you? Remember, please, that it was a cathedral which the nationalists and anarchists bombed in the beginning of the film, and that's what has caused this whole mess.
Now, the important question: why does Mycroft walk around naked?
In you will recall, in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes, Watson and Holmes were in the prison yard after the ship had been released into the water while it was still under construction, and Watson gets upset with Holmes and accuses Holmes of always hiding his plans from him. That is why Mycroft walks around naked. If Holmes keeps his plans "covered and secret," Mycroft "exposes" himself and his plans, being completely "open" with anyone and everyone. Mycroft and Sherlock are brothers but they are opposites.
On the left is Sebastian Moran, one of the best shooters in Europe and a former member of the British army. If you look at Moriarty's right hand, to the right of it is a small, reddish notebook. If the full-length black leather jacket was the sign of Lord Blackwood's appetites in Sherlock Holmes, the little red book is Moriarty's. It's red because that is the color of the appetites and leather because leather is made from animal skin, so, specifically, it denotes his animal passion for conflict and destruction. This little red book is wherein Moriarty records all his wealth and plans and which takes Holmes forever to steal from him. It is when Holmes and Moriarty formally meet for the first time that Holmes notices a book on the Art of Domestic Horticulture and the dead plants in Moriarty's office that Holmes finds the key to deciphering the red leather book. The book on horticulture and Moriarty's dead plants counters Holmes' apartment and the thick, lush plants which Holmes has grown demonstrating how the soul is like a plant and Moriarty's is dead while Holmes' is vibrant.
There's a truly amazing chess game, towards the end, in the castle with the waterfall between Moriarty and Holmes. Having done some research, chess fanatics say that yes, the chess game they play is legitimate: Moriarty and Holmes get up and leave the chess board as they walk on the terrace, and continue the game in their heads, calling out their moves (so, not only are they remembering where their own positions and moving are accordingly, they are remembering the others positions and the most recent moves). According to Adam Raoof, the chess consultant on the film, "[N]ot much of the footage of the actual game we filmed survived the edit, but it was a famous Larsen game with reversed colors and using some variations."
Why is the chess game so important?
Chess is a war.
Director Guy Ritchie prepping Harris and Downey on the chess scene between Moriarty and Holmes on the castle terrace. Why does Holmes challenge Moriarty to this game? Does Holmes think he can beat him? I don't think that Holmes is confident of beating Moriarty, but you keep your friends close and your enemies closer. While Holmes and Moriarty play chess on the terrace, Watson and Simza are inside trying to find her brother, Rene, who is about to murder a diplomat and start an international war. In this way, Holmes' and Moriarty compare their actual chess pieces to their "bishops" inside the peace conference (Simza and Watson for Holmes, Sebastian Moran and Rene for Moriarty), and this creates a system within a system. Don't buy it? Look over Ritchie's right shoulder, into the room in the background, the floor pattern mirrors the chess board they are sitting around (in the trailer you see a formal dance with people waltzing on the floor and that's the peace summit wherein Moriarty's plans unfold for starting a war).
Larsen, of course, refers to Bent Larsen who was a daring, creative chess player, known for his seemingly reckless opening moves. I confess, I do not know as much about chess as I should, however, it appears that the specific Larsen citation is to the Bishop's Opening and, just as Irene had failed to be alerted to Moriarty's skill in controlling a situation at the beginning of the film (his ability to make all the restaurant's patrons leave at the sound of the chiming), so Moriarty makes the same mistake against Holmes in failing to be properly aware of Watson and his powers. Yet chess exists throughout the entire film, for example, Holmes has to save a diplomat from a bomb and having found some clues, Holmes believes he knows where the bomb will explode; going there, he finds a chess piece Moriarty had left for him in that exact spot so Holmes would know he had been mistaken and Holmes would know that Moriarty knew. However, Holmes mistake at this point is his blessing later on, Moriarty counts on Holmes making another mistake but Holmes successively sidesteps it. (If you are interested in Sherlock Holmes and the employment of chess in his pursuits, you might enjoy the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce version from 1943 of  Sherlock Holmes Faces Death where the solving of a riddle comes down to the moves on a chessboard).
This is the first face-to-face meeting of Moriarty and Holmes; it's important that Moriarty sits and Holmes stands because Holmes is spiritually, intellectually and psychologically "above" Moriarty. The book in Holmes' left hand is one of Moriarty's published works and Holmes' asks him to dedicate it for him. Looking at the sample of handwriting Moriarty has unwittingly provided, Holmes concludes that he is "morally insane." Using chaos theory, Holmes concludes that because Moriarty is so criminal, there must be an effect of that apparent in his handwriting, similar to Holmes wanting to dissect Blackwood's brain after his hanging to see if there were some deformity that would be of benefit to science.
How is Moriarty evil?
The point of Moriarty's schemes and his employing plastic surgery tells us that the face of evil has changed: it's harder to fight evil when you don't know that it looks just like you. Moriarty is the criminal of the here and now and of the future, not the kinds of criminals like the Joker from Batman or even Lord Blackwood who was a satanist: Moriarty looks like every other businessman or professor and that's a warning to us not only to be on guard against it, but to make sure that our own activities don't become like Moriarty's that our innocence doesn't turn into guilt because we exploit systems for our own good.
After Holmes has failed to stop a bomb from going off and Holmes, Simza and Watson enter the meeting room. Examining what has happened, Holmes realizes that, even if he had stopped the bomb, Moran, from about 600 yards away, was shooting the target and not taking a chance on the bomb killing him (too many possible conditions could go wrong) so, as Holmes tells Watson, "No one looks for a bullet hole in a bomb explosion," but Holmes has been training himself to do just that: his experiments in urban camouflage has taught him what tell-tale signs to look for and he finds it.
My last point: A Game of Shadows invokes numerous films.
I mentioned above the references to Hitchcock's Torn Curtain and North By Northwest, but there is a third Hitchcock film, the 1940 Foreign Correspondent which won an Academy Nomination for Best Picture that year. Van Meer is a peace negotiator trying to keep the world out of the second world war and he, like Moriarty, likes to feed pigeons (there are many similarities but I will mention just this one, for now). "Bad people do bad things because they can" reminds us of a line from Boris Karloff in the 1935 horror classic The Raven with Bela Lugosi. There is a reference to Pulp Fiction when Holmes has died from injuries while they were under fire in a forest and his heart stops beating; Watson injects him with a shot of adrenaline just as Vincent does to Mia after her overdose.
Examining from where Moran made the fatal shot and everything he took into account to make it.
The reference to A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe is pictured below with the "web of conspiracy" that A Game of Shadows borrows. The last reference I was able to catch is to Jet Li's Hero.  Moriarty and Holmes mentally imagine a fist fight they might have after they have played chess just as Nameless and Sky have a battle in their minds in the chess court. But A Game of Shadows also knows it exists within the Sherlock Holmes Canon: when, for example, Moriarty pulls up to the castle in a sleigh, it references the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes, when the film closes after Moriarty has arrived in a sleigh.
The web of conspiracy which Holmes has been using to train his mind to see traces of Moriarty in crimes taking place. One last item in this place where it absolutely doesn't belong, but oh, well. The girl being sacrificed in the beginning of Sherlock Holmes is just like Europe in A Game of Shadows. Moriarty points out to Holmes that even though Holmes got the telegraph to his brother, and all the diplomats have been warned, no one is stopping Moriarty because we all have an insatiable desire for conflict, so that ignoring of the warning is just like the girl in the Satanic Sacrifice picking up the knife with her own hand and being willing to take her own life.
So what's the point of this? A cinematic Easter egg hunt?
No, it's far more important than that.
It demonstrates to us an additional layer of self-awareness of the film, that it knows where it has come from and to what it belongs. It's one of the dolls inside the larger dolls and it tells us that it has smaller dolls within it, we just have to look for them. Why? Because then we will realize that we too, exist within a larger doll, and either that doll is the Body of Christ or it's the evil empire of Satan, but no one is outside the system, the system includes us all, and in this game of shadows where we can't and don't see everything like Holmes does, we see enough to know that we must pick sides and be careful in how we choose.