Pieces of Poirot

Poirot falling to pieces was a novelty. I’ll give them that. But the consensus in these parts seemed to be that we prefer a slightly saner Poirot, and if the murderers can be more cheerful as they go about their business that would not be a bad thing. At least if it’s Murder on the Orient Express, and they are almost justified, and they get to travel on that great train.

David Suchet, Murder on the Orient Express

But it must have been the justification that had the screenwriter in a twist. It wouldn’t be pc to allow murderers to get away with it (although it seems to be in vogue in real courts, here and now), so we need to have Poirot all religious and with flashback to a possible mistake made earlier, as well as putting the current murderers in context with the stoning of an adulteress.

It is a very Christmassy Christie, what with the snow and all. Considerably more ‘current news’ than they could possibly have hoped for, as well. Trains stuck. Cold trains. Bad customer service. Ineffective digging in snow drifts. Almost British. The period feel is good, and the train is lovely.

But we don’t want Poirot falling to pieces. He didn’t in the ‘old’ film, nor, as far as I recall, did he in the book. When did he become a catholic, or at least, so overtly religious? As the film began Daughter muttered that she hoped they weren’t going to change who did it. A bit hard with this scenario, but it began to look as if they’d change Poirot’s decision at the end.

Was it just me, or had much of the casting been done by someone who knew exactly what each character should look like, as defined by the old film?

And was this intended as Poirot’s last case? If so, I suppose he’s allowed to go round the bend somewhat. As Son pointed out, everyone was so very angry.

Murder on the Orient Express 2010

(This post co-published with CultureWitch)

3 responses to “Pieces of Poirot

  1. Tricky one, this. It is so hard to make up to date versions of a story that has been set in stone in people’s imaginations – replicate it and it’s pointless; revise it and run the purist gauntlet. But they couldn’t really not remake it. At least they did a better job than that awful version with Alfred Molina. I agree the religious element didn’t work – and the references to penance were quite painful. The portrayal of Cassetti in particular was strange. He was made too much a monster in his relation to everyone around him as a plot justification, but at the same time his vague references to making reparation and wanting to save his soul seemed to be designed to make him ambiguous.

    I must say I rather liked the self-doubt, but I agree it felt like a “TV detective winding up to the end”, the reflectiveness of late Frost and Remorseful day Morse, and the real problem with that is the subtle balance between the development of the central character we love and the plot itself gets skewed too much the wrong way

  2. It’s funny, because I actually rather liked this interpretation. Partly because Poirot has been so clear on what is right and wrong no matter what before, and finally he has a situation that makes him question his own code of ethics. I thought the plea to something beyond justice by the governess or whatever she was was quite effective.

  3. I obviously didn’t want a copy of the old one. But a nice Suchet Orient Express would have been, well, nice. But make him weird and we won’t mind so much when it ends. (But I just don’t see why you invent new things for television. Pruning unnecessary bits off I can understand.)

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