Hercule Poirot is on the case in the 2010 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Here’s a look at the Blu-ray and its additional features.
It’s hard to believe that David Suchet has been playing Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot for more than 20 years, but Agatha Christie’s Poirot debuted on British network ITV1 in January of 1989, and new episodes have been coming semi-regularly since then. To date, Suchet has starred in 65 Poirot adaptations, and in 2007 he said that his hope was to complete the entire Poirot canon before his own 65th birthday. With Suchet’s birthday quickly approaching in May 2011, it looks like he might just miss his goal, but he’s making a good try for it, with only four novels, a collection of short stories, and a play remaining to complete the collection.
Murder on the Orient Express is one of Agatha Christie’s best known works, and it also inspired what is arguably the best film adaptation of a Christie novel. Sidney Lumet’s 1974 movie garnered six Academy Award nominations and one win (Ingrid Bergman for Best Supporting Actress), making this possibly the hardest Poirot adaptation to trump with a remake. It stands to reason that the David Suchet series waited two decades from its inception and twenty-six years from the original movie’s release before attempting a redo. Agatha Christie herself often was critical of film versions of her works, and her primary complaint about Murder on the Orient Express was Albert Finney’s lackluster mustache. She would have no complaints if she had lived to see David Suchet sporting the trademark facial hair.
David Suchet is without a doubt the quintessential Hercule Poirot. Handpicked by Christie’s family, the actor devoted himself to becoming the fictional detective and personifies the character perhaps more accurately than any actor has portrayed an adapted character before. From the egg shaped head to the famous mustache to the particular walk and the recognizable mannerisms, any Poirot production with Suchet in the lead role is bound to succeed. As such, Suchet shines in Murder on the Orient Express, once again bringing a credible Poirot to life, even if the events of the story itself stray from those of the source material.
The mysteries adapted for Agatha Christie’s Poirot often deviate in various ways from the original novels and short stories, the most prevalent changes being time shifts that move most of the stories out of the decades in which they originally were written and set to land in the 1930s, where the majority of the Poirot TV series takes place. Chronologies have been changed as well, and scenes and characters occasionally are added or dropped. There are a few significant additions in this 2010 movie that differ from Christie’s original writing, but the basic plot is the same, as are many aspects of the murder investigation. If you’ve read the book or seen the 1974 movie, you know the whodunit aspect already, and this movie stays true to that framework.
Even with the significant changes and some tonal differences, the 2010 Murder on the Orient Express remains a competent version of the classic mystery. Barbara Hershey, David Morissey, Eileen Atkins, Toby Jones, and Hugh Bonneville are among the guest stars that make up the gallery of suspects on the famously sinister train ride from Istanbul to London.
In addition to the movie itself, the Blu-ray release includes a number of special features. The most interesting and significant is a 47-minute featurette in which David Suchet rides the actual Orient Express and hosts a tour of the train and its history. Other features include text presentations of the full Poirot bibliography, cast filmographies, and an article called 120 Years with Agatha Christie.