Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Murder Mystery
Synopsis: While traveling by train on the Orient Express line, a murder was committed in a car full of people, including famed detective Hercule Poirot. Now, he’s on the case to uncover the murder or murderess and solve the mystery behind the murdered man.
This was my very first Agatha Christie novel and, honestly, I don’t understand all of the hype. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed reading the story and watching the plot unfold as I read. It just wasn’t as great a story as it’s made out to be. I read it only after I saw the trailer for the film that was released a few weeks ago. With such a star-studded cast, and the fact that it was a book turned into a film, I knew I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I’m glad I did.
Murder on the Orient Express is #9 in the Hercule Poirot series, and although you don’t need to read any of the previous novels to understand the plot, I felt that I didn’t quite understand Hercule Poirot as much. He wasn’t adequately described, and there wasn’t a lot of backstory for him. I didn’t get to see what drives him as a character or what makes him who and what he is. That being said, the other numerous characters were very well-developed, and I never ONCE got confused as to who was who.
The plot was very solid, and I didn’t want to put it down in the need to find out who the killer was. The ending was completely satisfying, and I loved how connected all of the suspects were once we discovered the culprit. (Obviously, I don’t want to reveal anything that would be considered a spoiler.) While I was pleasantly surprised by the ending, I didn’t quite understand the journey to get there.
So many clues were laid before Poirot, and after interviewing all of the suspects, he finally figures out two scenarios that best explains the situation. What I didn’t understand was HOW he figured it out. Every clue was very ambiguous, and Poirot’s knowledge of other topics helped him get through them. The man should honestly be a contestant on Jeopardy for all the knowledge he has. I wouldn’t have ever figured out the culprit with what he was given.
It seemed he almost pulled some of the explanations out of thin air. Maybe even grasping at straws that he was on the right track at times. There were also some pieces that didn’t make sense, like the red kimono. I don’t remember ever hearing an explanation for it as a clue, so it’s left to me as an unanswered question.
There were some positives and some negatives to Murder on the Orient Express for me in detail, but as a whole, I did enjoy reading it and I’m glad it was my first Christie novel. I may read more of her work in the future, but I won’t carve out the time as we speak.
Compare and Contrast: Book VS Film
Now, onto the film. There were so many actors and actresses in the film that I knew I wanted to see it as soon as possible. Finally, after the hype died away, I went and saw Murder on the Orient Express on Thanksgiving weekend. And it didn’t disappoint.
Now, I know there are a lot of people out there who didn’t see Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. I didn’t see it at first, either. But as to his acting ability, he portrayed Poirot’s quirkiness and intelligence extremely well. Sometimes, you have to choose an actor who best portrays the character rather than one who resembles the character. They also gave Poirot a bit more backstory, adding a woman named Katherine whom he clearly was in love with.
There were a few characters that were replaced, probably for the reason of making this film a little more racially diverse. One character in particular threw me for a loop: Dr. Constantine was absorbed into Colonel Arbuthnot’s character, making him Dr. Arbuthnot. This drew up a red flag for me. Although I don’t know many doctors, I understand that many of them take oaths not to hurt other people. Plus, the doctor obviously has to examine the corpse.
Dr. Constantine was not considered a suspect in the novel, but Colonel Arbuthnot was. Doesn’t that make his analysis of the body a bit shaded? The other additions and omissions really didn’t ring any bells for me, but I liked the added diversity in the film.
The overall feel of the film was really quite grandiose without being gaudy. It felt very old-world and historic, placing me in the time period with ease. The music added to this effect as well, and everything looked relatively realistic.
There was a bit more action in the film, which I was very happy for. In the book, a lot of the time these characters were stuck on the train being interrogated by Poirot, making these scenes a bit boring on film. But the added drama to the film helped brighten the story and made it much more watchable.
In the end, the film actually made me tear up a bit. When we hear the explanation and motive for the murder, I felt sadness and despair. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’ve read the book, then you understand the ideas of justice behind the motive.
This movie was well worth it if you loved the book. The film really stayed true to what the book had to offer, and only added things in that would advance the story and make it more enjoyable to viewers. It felt very much like an Agatha Christie novel in film form, which is a great achievement. The film has also received ver pleasant reviews from critics and moviegoers alike, so if you’re thinking of seeing it, don’t think about it. Just do it.