News has reached the ears of Puzzle Doctor (via the mainstream media, not due to any particular contacts) that there’s an Agatha Christie movie in the works, with Kenneth Branagh attached to direct. And that film is… well, the title of the blog post gives it away. It’s Murder On The Orient Express.
Now this isn’t the worst Christie rumour that I’ve heard – that was this (which never got the green light, by the way) – but the question that springs to mind is, why?
I think it’s safe to say that, with the possible exception of The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd, this has the best known solution of all of the Poirot mysteries, not least because of the 1974 Oscar winning version, but also because you can sum it up in one sentence. People know the solution to this that haven’t read the book – and because it sounds (and, let’s face it, is) so stupid, it’ll stop people from reading it. I haven’t re-read this one for years and I’m in no rush to. The uniqueness of the solution is the reason that it remains one of her most popular books, but it’s a long way from being her best.
So why remake it? Well, it’s an excuse to get lots of stars in the same film, I guess. It’d be a quick shoot, based in a couple of sets, so more of a chance of really big names being free, and I suppose people will go and see some actors in almost anything they do. That’s probably true of me for a couple of performers as well. But it’s hardly a great introduction to Dame Agatha – but that’s unlikely to be what the producers are aiming for, unless a Poirot franchise is on the cards.
Obviously, the “whose going to play Poirot” speculation has started – my favourite suggesting it should be a Belgian, namely Jean-Claude Van Damme – but I imagine that Branagh probably needs to look no further than the nearest mirror to find someone. I’ve no problem with that, btw, I love Branagh’s work. Just with the choice of text. I just don’t see how someone can do anything original with it.
Surely The ABC Murders has more cinematic potential? A serial killer, a tighter cast, a sense of urgency? Or… do you know what, I can’t think of any other Poirot mystery that has the oomph to carry off a big screen adaptation. Maybe Hercule Poirot’s Christmas or Hallowe’en Party have enough of the gothic atmosphere about them, but that’s about it.
Obviously it’s early days, but are you looking forward to another trip on the legendary train? Or which Poirot novels would you like to see on the big screen – if any?