Thursday, January 2, 2014

Will History Repeat Itself?

I am continuing to experience very annoying formatting problems with Blogger, so please bear with me until I (hopefully) can get this rectified. Anyhow, the subject of today's post is "Murder on the Orient Express," which aside from "And Then There Were None," is probably Agatha Christie's most famous and beloved novel. At the time of this writing, the novel has been adapted three times - once in 1974, and again in 2001 and then again in 2010. Now, there are stirrings that Christie's book is up again for another big-screen treatment. Click here to read further. 

The question is - does Christie's novel deserve another turnaround? Aside from the 1974 adaptation, neither of the other two made-for-television films have been all that good. I am probably the minority here, but 1974 film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot is one of my favourite Christie movies, and one of my favourite movies in general. Finney is, and always will be Poirot for me - perhaps in part derived from the fact that his performance was my first exposure to the detective. Yes, David Suchet has certainly left his mark on the character, but he shall never eclipse Finney's eccentric performance. 

The rest of the film is simple swathed with grandeur. The recreation of '30's Istanbul is wonderfully done and each of the film's stars are excellent - Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Jean-Pierre Cassel and Ingrid Bergman who won an Oscar for her role in the movie. What's more, everything is elevated by Richard Rodney Bennett's beautiful, jazz-fueled score. 

By comparison the 2010 adaptation of the novel which was filmed as part of "Agatha Christie's Poirot" is an extremely tepid adaptation. David Suchet's performance is laughably over-the-top as he plays a real curmudgeon of a Poirot, and the entire episode is wreathed in depressing overtones, which wrings any pleasure from Christie's work. 

So, what would another big screen adaptation of "Murder on the Orient Express" bring? If the movie follows in the path of the 1974 film, than there shouldn't be too much to worry about. Yet, if history repeats itself and we get another run-around of the 2010 film, well I'm sure a number of Christie enthusiasts will be disappointed. The most important piece of all though is that whatever becomes of the movie, it must remain faithful to Agatha Christie's brilliant source material. 

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