Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures (2004 TV Movie)
User ReviewsReview this title
A book that examined the disappearance stated that she did it to embarrass her husband and didn't realize the enormity of the drama it would cause.
In this TV movie, she is thought to have been suffering from amnesia, devastated by her husband leaving her, her mother's death, and the pressures of her work.
My own opinion is that she wanted to get away from it all, and due to the fact that she had such a wild imagination, called herself by the last name of her husband's mistress, went to a spa, and lived a fantasy imaginary life for a while. I think her unhappiness drove her to it. I'm not sure I believe she had amnesia - she may have said she did. I think it was a necessary respite.
The title Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures is not really accurate as the movie really only concentrates on her meeting Archie, getting married, and disappearing. Her subsequent marriage is rushed through, and we learn nothing of her interest in spiritualism, something she shared with Conan Doyle. We also don't learn how sick she became of Poirot, calling him at one point "an egocentric creep."
Anna Massey plays the older Christie, and Olivia Williams the younger. I thought Olivia Williams did a good job. Great production values, too.
Agatha Christie was a fascinating and complicated woman. This movie doesn't tell her story, but rather speculates about a mysterious time in her life, a time when I think she acted out a fantasy rather than having a character do it.
And then there's this story on the DVD, a confabulation of all these, the gimmick being that they are shuffled creatively. Its the sort of thing I love, that I live for as a consumer of stories.
And its really hard to mess up because you get a lot of value out of simply making the attempt to flatten all these folds into one layer.
But it is messed up here. Its virtually unwatchable. I don't think the reason is any of the usual candidates: the ordinary production values are good. The idea is inspired. I think it is something very simple and small, something that a film school assignment could address and fix. Its the tone of the thing. And how that tone is carried in the editing and to some extent in the score. Some small adjustments there and a few things shuffled about and this could have been a killer project.
Oh well, there is one rather interesting thing if you are a film enthusiast. Anna Massey plays the elder Agatha. Its a strange choice because Anna is thin attractive and poised, here playing a bemused wisdom. The real person was dumpy, sour and dull, full of self-loathing. Anna was one of the redheads in "Peeping Tom," an influential entry in the history of folded narrative. She was also Babs in "Frenzy," whose death triggered one of Hitchcock's most famous shots, "goodbye Babs."
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.