Murder on the Orient Express, by Dame Agatha Christie, is reincarnated in the new PBS Masterpiece Mystery production that aired last night.
I usually tape these shows and watch them the next day, but not last night, Josephine!
From the first scenes of Hercule Poirot, slimmer of body and heavier of mood, declaring his principles on law and justice, immediately after which the perpetrator shoots himself in the head splashing Poirot's face with drops of blood, to the scenes of Poirot on the train struggling with what is right action and what is true justice, I was riveted!
Having seen the 1974 star-studded version, I thought I remembered the story quite well, and who the murderer was. But this new production was so dark, and Poirot was so haunted that it felt like a whole different story.
Have we ever seen Poirot pray? Did we ever know he was Catholic? This one scene took Poirot, and me right with him, to such deep levels. Territory we have not traveled together. And it was thrilling!
I realized toward the end that I had not remembered who the murderer was. Shock hit me all over again upon learning the truth. The exquisite cast and direction managed to bring each character to new life, not enslaved by the iconic performances in the earlier famous film.
I have watched many, many Christie mysteries and read others. This crime is more brutal than all those put together. Her stories draw me particularly because of the lack of brutality and gore, focusing on the psychological and motivational aspects of her characters and the superb drawing of her sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. After last night I want to know what was going on in Agatha Christie's life at the time she wrote Murder on the Orient Express? Why the sharp turn to such a brutal crime?
The last scene in the film, which I won't reveal in case you haven't seen it yet, shows a part of Poirot that we have never seen before, that maybe he has never seen before, and it moved me to tears.
The film will be repeated maybe two times on PBS this week. Check your guide or go to www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/ for the listings. DON'T MISS IT!!
Love and mystery,