Ten strangers are invited to an island by a mysterious host, and start to get killed one by one. Could one of them be the killer?Ten strangers are invited to an island by a mysterious host, and start to get killed one by one. Could one of them be the killer?Ten strangers are invited to an island by a mysterious host, and start to get killed one by one. Could one of them be the killer?
The house, the cast, the pathetically fallacious cloud formations, sunsets and dramatic weather, the costumes, hair and makeup taking each character from groomed control to dishevelled à la Marat/Sade - everything contributes to this brilliant psychological drama of Agatha Christie at her finest.
The only thing missing was Agatha Christie's brilliance.
There is a lack of understanding in this film of the original plot, which is not only fatal to the interpretation but is actually quite horrible. It is, in the final analysis, typical BBC. Every time the BBC dramatises a classic (Austen, Dickens, Conan Doyle...) it should have, just under the title, the words 'Loosely based on an idea by' - as a kind of caveat.
Agatha Christie's book (originally titled, in the UK, as 'Ten Little Niggers', in accordance with the terminology of the time - this was after all 1939...) has a completeness and subtlety of plot which the BBC can for some reason never achieve. Every tiny detail, as in a fine tapestry, fits in with and contributes to the whole. Everything is in its place - and the reader overlooks it at their peril.
So why did the BBC (in the persons of the screenwriter, director, et al.) omit things like the red oilskin curtain, the hiding of the grey skein of wool (inexpertly wound into an unusable ball by Miranda Richardson), the pooling and securing of possible murder implements, the bee, the seaweed, and so on? Why were the original murders made physical to an obviously culpable extent when the whole point of the plot is that they were not so, because they were too 'hands off'?
It is, after all, in this last respect why every reader kicks themself as they turn the last page of Agatha Christie's most perfect work - because she provided not only all the clues but actually also the only possible solution, elegantly displayed along the way, for the Hastings-blind reader who missed it all.
And then there's the larding of the BBC's currently in-favour - but inappropriate to the time and to Agatha Christie's oeuvre and taste - swear words. Plus the physical manifestation of the particularly favoured word between Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard. What the fuck is all that about?. (See - doesn't add anything, does it ?) Have the BBC never heard of dramatic tension (oh, wait...)? If they'd kept faithful to the original in every respect, they wouldn't have needed to add anything as silly as a one-night stand and a few tacky close-ups of thighs, stocking tops, torsos, and cleavage.
Good, verging on excellent - but in the event not good enough. Worth a watch, but not a buy.
We'll just have to wait another twenty-nine or forty-one years for the next one to come along...
- Mar 28, 2018