You probably all know that I’m a bit of a grouch where movies based on books are concerned. And for some reason especially where Agatha Christie is concerned (I’m not really sure why). The Albert Finney Murder on the Orient Express is good, very close to the book. The Kenneth Branagh version – meh.
But my favorite AG movies are the Peter Ustinov Death on the Nile as well as the David Suchet version from the PBS Poirot series. The PU leaves out the secondary plot but the DS messes with the characters’ motives. But I love them both and we won’t discuss how many times I’ve seen them (great background for while I’m in my studio).
I’ve known for many months that Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile was looming and the trailers that I found online were a bit alarming but nonetheless YA and I ventured out last weekend to see it. Maybe I would be pleasantly surprised; after all it’s a fabulous story, how could you mess it up?
As YA and I drove to the theatre I promised her that I would not talk during the movie as I know she hates that. Then she said “and if you don’t like it, no big sighs”. Guess she’s been to that rodeo before! We bought our snacks and settled down in our seats.
I knew in the first 5 seconds that we were in trouble. It won’t be a spoiler alert to say that Agatha Christie NEVER gave Hercule Poirot a backstory. And a jazz nightclub in Paris? Nope. And I can’t even talk about how far off script the various characters were. I suppose there is something to be said about bringing a fresh coat of paint to something, but Branagh completely disassembled the furniture before adding paint. And I’m pretty sure that no tourist boat in Egypt in the 30s was staffed with scores of young, white women in shorts.
I will say that the visuals were stunning. And I will give the movie makers their due on Abu Simbel. They show the temple right at the water’s edge, which is the original location. (The temple was moved to higher ground in the mid-60s.) The PU version didn’t get this right and the DS version didn’t even have an Abu Simbel scene.
It was SO hard not to sigh and then it turns out that I could have. As we left the theatre, YA said “who was the murderer”; she had fallen asleep. When we figured out how far back she had fallen asleep, I could have sighed for at least 20 minutes!
Any remakes that make you shudder or that you like better than the original?