Did you watch SHERLOCK on PBS? Didn’t love the ending (not a fan of indeterminate amount of time cliff hangers) but I loved the too short series. A wonderful homage to the stories. Fabulous updates within the spirit. I especially loved the retake on John Watson. In many ways this is his story as well, and it is a good one. If you missed it, find it. And let me know what you think.
I wrote my thesis on Agatha Christie, and her use of POV. One of the books I used was Murder on the Orient Express. Because of that, I have read it (over and over and over) fairly recently. I am a fan of the 1974 film.
I am also a fan of Agatha Christie. She is sometimes dismissed, but shouldn’t be. She was a master of her craft, and contributed a great deal to the genre. And 30 plus years after her death, she is still widely read. (Another blog post to come, I see.)
I will leave my rants about the recent Miss Marples to another post. This one is for the 2010 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, starring the quintessential Poirot, David Suchet. The cast was wonderful. The production values were fabulous. But the adaptation. Mais non.
There were changes to the story (spoiler alert) like a stoning at the beginning (which Poirot seems to condone) and the seeming lack of a relationship between M. Bouc and Poirot that made me nervous about other changes, but I went with the flow. I know that a 2010 version, made in the shadow of the great 1974 film, would have changes. But where 1974 was a faithful adaptation, 2010 was more of an inspired by. And herein lies the problem. By tweaking the plot (to make it darker?), they ruined the story.
Some of my biggest problems? Colonel Arbuthnot considers murder to cover up his crime? No. Poirot doesn’t solve the case, but has it explained to him by the Princess Dragomiroff (not Caroline Hubbard? Was that because Eileen Atkins was playing the Princess?) No. The doctor is part of the conspiracy? No. And Poirot fights for the Law over Justice? No.
I will discuss what they’ve done to Miss Marple in another post, but I’ve come to expect those. But to have David Suchet play Poirot in a version of Murder on the Orient Express that I hated? Such a waste.
A few years (late 1990's) back my sister and I (roommates at the time) watched Sense and Sensibility on almost a daily basis. The Emma Thompson version. That was before I bought the DVD of Pride and Prejudice, which became a yearly viewing occasion. And we saw Persuasion on PBS. And Gweneth's Emma.
Last year PBS showed a more recent version of Sense and Sensibility. And Persuasion. Never mind the movie version of Pride and Prejudice. There was also a version of Mansfield Park, but I missed it. As I had in novel form.
In fact, I'd missed a lot of Jane in novel form. I'd read P&P in high school, but not since. I'd read Persuasion in grad school, and then again just for the joy of it. I'd long considered Persuasion my favorite of her novels, but who was I to say? I hadn't read the rest, just seen them on TV. Which, lovely as some of the adaptations are (and I will write a blog about that at some point), isn't the same.
So a few friends and I decided to make this the year of Jane. We are reading all of her novels. In the order she wrote them (not the order they were published.) We met last weekend, and talked about Northanger Abbey. Not her best, but not Jane's best is still pretty good. And as a writer, reading her first work was really interesting.
PBS has been kind enough to schedule five weeks of Jane Austen movies (3 of Emma, Northanger Abbey and replay of last year's Persuasion). And the book project will continue as well. Reports on both will be forthcoming.