Lethal Affairs

Of Agatha Christie, murders, and plot twists

Agatha Christie’s Poirot series

Recently I have been watching random titles out of the Agatha Christie’s Poirot series, starring David Suchet as Poirot. The series started in 1989 with Season 1, and is now currently at Season 12, as of 2010. Other recurrent characters include Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp.

So here is a review on some of the titles I have seen so far:

1. Sad Cypress

Season 9, Episode 2. Original air date: 26 December 2003.

When I found out there is a movie adaptation of Sad Cypress, I just had to see it. The original novel has a tragic romance-multiple murders plot that is easily understandable, and likable. Readers can’t help wanting to root for Elinor Carlisle, the beautiful heroine accused of murdering her aunt (Laura Welman) and her love rival (Mary Gerrard) with a fatal dose of stolen morphine. Then there is Dr. Peter Lord, the local physician to Mrs. Welman who fell in love with Elinor and tried desperately to save her from the gallows. Enter Hercule Poirot, and we have a great recipe for murder investigation.

Overall, the movie follows the story quite accurately. There are no major changes except at the climax, towards the end of the story where Poirot unmasked the murderer in the house  instead of in the court during the hearing. Elinor had already been pronounced guilty at that time and sentenced to death, but was saved in time due to Poirot’s brilliant last-minute deduction; Elinor and Dr. Lord then live happily ever after. This adaptation is definitely a must-watch for all Poirot fans.

My rating: 4.5/5.0

2. Cards on the Table

Season 10, Episode 2. Original air date: 11 December 2005.

One of Poirot’s most popular cases; as I mentioned before in another post, this title is wonderful due to the sheer simplicity of the murder itself. Mr. Shaitana, a collector of rare items has a hobby of collecting something else; murderers who got away with their crimes. Four such “exhibits”, each with his or her own guilty past to hide, have equal motive and opportunity to murder Shaitana.

The movie does follow the plot and settings quite faithfully, up to the last part where the ending ruins everything. The past that the murderer (Dr. Roberts) was trying to cover up has been altered significantly; although that does not change the motive for murder, it is still unsatisfactory that the story has to end the way it did in the movie. Another significant change is that Anne Meredith ends up with Major Despard, instead of Rhoda Dawes. But the most shocking fact revealed by Poirot may be that Shaitana was playing them all along; he sets up the party and then drugs himself to sleep, being fully aware that he will be murdered. It is a nice twist to the story, although I must admit I like the classic novel much better.

My rating: 3.5/5.0

3. Appointment with Death

Season 11, Episode 4. Original air date: 22 September 2008.

Set in an archaeological site in Syria, this movie deviates significantly from the original novel in more ways than one. The characters, settings, as well as the motive for murder have been altered. To me, Appointment with Death has always been a classic Poirot title; the exotic settings in the Middle East is very similar to Murder in Mesopotamia, which is an equally delightful read. Therefore, I am a little disappointed with the changes they made in this movie; nevertheless I would still say the movie was very well-made.

The most obvious change here is way the murder was committed. Instead of just a simple injection of digitalis to stop the heart, the murderer(s) carried out an unbelievably elaborate plan in order to establish alibis for themselves, before finally finishing the victim off with a stab through the heart. Also, several important characters have been omitted and new ones introduced, who play significant roles in the plot development. Altogether, I must say that I very much prefer the old version of the story, where everything is kept simple and straightforward for readers to enjoy.

My rating: 3.5/5.0


September 25, 2011 - Posted by | Books, Crime Fiction | , , , , , , ,

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