Lethal Affairs

Of Agatha Christie, murders, and plot twists

And Then There Were None: From the novel to the films, to the game

“Ladies and gentlemen! Silence, please!

You are charged with the following indictments:
Edward George Armstrong, that you did upon the 14th day of March, 1925, cause the death of Louisa Mary Clees.
Emily Caroline Brent, that upon the 5th November, 1931, you were responsible for the death of Beatrice Taylor.
William Henry Blore, that you brought about the death of James Stephen Landor on October 10th, 1928.
Vera Elizabeth Claythorne, that on the 11th day of August, 1935, you killed Cyril Ogilvie Hamilton.
Philip Lombard, that upon a date in February, 1932, you were guilty of the death of twenty-one men, members of an East African tribe.
John Gordon Macarthur, that on the 4th of January, 1917, you deliberately sent your wife’s lover, Arthur Richmond, to his death.

Anthony James Marston, that upon the 14th day of November last, you were guilty of the murder of John and Lucy Combes.
Thomas Rogers and Ethel Rogers, that on the 6th of May, 1929, you brought about the death of Jennifer Brady.
Lawrence John Wargrave, that upon the 10th day of June, 1930, you were guilty of the murder of Edward Seton.
Prisoners at the bar, have you anything to say in your defence?”

And Then There Were None/ Ten Little Indians

Published: 1939

Genre: Crime, mystery, psychology

With over 100 million copies sold, “And Then” is certainly Agatha Christie’s most popular title out of all her works. The first edition of the novel was published in November 1939, and remains a classic until today. I have reviewed this title in some of my older posts; however I just saw two of the film adaptations this week. Having completed the PC game last year, I decided that there are significant differences between the original novel, the films, and the game, most notably on their conclusion.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

1. The book.

Fans of Christie would be familiar with the plot, the settings and the characters of this wonderful novel. Eight guests were invited to Soldier Island (also known as Nigger Island or Indian Island) by a Mr. U.N. Owen. Upon reaching there, the guests were greeted by two servants, a Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, who arrived on the island just two days before. Altogether, there were ten people on the island, and none of them have met their mysterious (or rather, non-existent) host. The guests were amused to find copies of the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Niggers” in each of their room, and there were also ten figurines sitting on the dining table. However their amusement soon turned to fear, anger, and suspicion when each of them is accused of murder by a voice on a gramophone record that plays during their first dinner. One by one, each of them dies according to the method described in the nursery rhyme, and with each death a figurine is removed from the table. The story concluded with the death of all ten of them, including Wargrave (the real murderer), and a letter of confession is found in a floating bottle which is handed to the police. Thus we have ten bodies and an unsolved case on Soldier Island. In this novel, the motive of murder was to preserve justice by killing the nine guilty people, with the exception of Wargrave himself who ironically, was the only one innocent of the crime he was accused of.

2. The films & TV.

There were altogether eleven film and TV adaptations of the novel, although some of them have significant deviations from the story and the plot. So I would say there are only about five of them that follow the story faithfully; with the first one made in 1945 in the US. Others include the 1965 version of the film, where the settings were changed to a mountain retreat in Austria, and the one in 1974 was set in the Iranian desert instead of an island. In 1987 another adaptation was made, this time by the USSR, with the title Desyat’ negrityat (Ten Little Negroes). The last movie was made in 1989 and was titled Ten Little Indians.

I first watched the 1945 U.S. adaptation, and to me it was just average. There is a lot of humour incorporated into the story, and the ending is not as tragic as it should be. Most of the films follow the ending written for the play (by Christie herself) instead of using the original ending; in the films, Lombard managed to figure out that the murderer is still alive among them and urged Vera to pretend shooting him in order to lure out the murderer. In the end, Wargrave died by suicide and Lombard was able to escape the island with Vera; they lived happily ever after, being the only ones who were innocent of the crimes.

One exception to this is the Russian adaptation of the novel, which follows the plot and ending exactly. All ten of them died, with Vera hanging herself as predicted, and Wargrave shooting himself to complete the rhyme. One minor difference is that Wargrave shot himself while sitting at the dining table, instead of in his room as described in the book.

3. The PC game.

The PC game, which was released in 2005, is significantly different from the novel. Not only that a new character, Patrick Narracott the boatman is introduced as the main character, we also have a different murderer with a very different motive for the crimes (which, if I may say, is totally ridiculous). There are four possible endings to it, and up to three people may survive depending on which path you (as Narracott) chose to take. Altogether, it is a poor interpretation of this classic story, but the gameplay is very enjoyable, with beautiful scenery. Recommended only if you have at least read the novel.

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June 12, 2011 - Posted by | Books, Crime Fiction, Games | , , , , ,

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