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If something is perfect, why change it?

My husband and I were on Cape Cod on July 11, and I read in The Boston Globe that Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express would be shown on PBS that night.  Now, as far as I’m concerned, Ms. Christie was/is The Queen of Mysteries.  I know, I know, the Golden Age style is no longer in vogue.  Now we need serial killers (see my July 7 post), sexual perversions, and child abuse to make a best seller.  But no one, past or present, could toss those red herrings around like Dame Agatha.

Very excited to see a new version of this classic novel, I sat through an hour-long promo of David Suchet going for a ride on the Orient Express.  I’m guessing he’s a Method Actor and needed to experience the train before he “became” Hercule Poirot.  I must admit that I’ve never been the biggest Suchet fan, but then I’ve never seen a Poirot I thought was authentic.

Anyhow, at 9 p.m. I was ready to view this mystery classic.  And was I disappointed! I thought that Suchet was acting as if he had a hyperactivity problem.  His facial expressions, his gestures, were so unlike the refined, mannered Belgian detective as to be almost (almost) humorous.  I keep waiting for him to calm down, to remember the character he was playing, but no such luck.

Of course, I don’t know if this (mis)characterization of the great detective was the author’s fault or the director’s.  But either way it was wrong, wrong, wrong.  There wasn’t a bit of Christie’s character in this production.

My feeling is, if you’re going to change the character or plot of a novel when you bring it to film or television, perhaps you should simply invent a new character.  Leave the old one alone and come up with your own idea.

And that way you won’t even have to pay royalties!


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