Agatha Christie’s Poirot – Murder On The Orient
Express (2009/Acorn Media Blu-ray)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Telefilm: C+
Christie wrote so many best-selling books that you can loose track, but so many
are well written and some so well, that they have individual reputations for
excellence. Murder On The Orient Express is one of her best books, which is why
it is rarely dramatized and is famously celebrated, including in its 1974
feature film version that remains one of the best Christie films ever made or
will veer be made.
long-running David Suchet run as Poirot has produced its adaptation of the
book, but waited until its 12th season to take it on. In one way, it treats the book as just another
episode of the series, but they and Acorn Media know better and have issued the
2009 adaptation as a Blu-ray and scooped Paramount
in issuing the 1974 film in the format.
not as horrible as the awful, “updated” 2001 CBS TV movie version with Alfred
Molina out of his element as Poirot, this Suchet version is at least set in the
past, but even its good cast cannot make this really work well. It treats the events like just another
mystery and never gets to the nuance and irony of the book or 1974 film. Writer Stewart Harcourt just does not know
where to take the material and Director Philip Martin does not have the edge
that Lumet did (or Guy Hamilton would on Death
On The Nile) to make this as exciting as Christie did to begin with.
includes Toby Jones (W., Frost/Nixon), Eileen Atkins (Wolf, Cold Comfort Farm, Equus),
Hugh Bonneville (Inspector Hewitt in the recent Mirror Crack’d telefilm), Samuel West (Carrington) and Barbara Hershey (Falling Down), but even they cannot overcome the now formulaic
approach to make the Christie Poirot books stuffy in ways they never were.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is a little better than the
anamorphically enhanced DVD we covered a little while ago, but there is still
too much motion blur and other flaws to hold back the overall quality. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo is
warmer than the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the DVD, but still has its sonic
limits. These are quiet productions, so
audio is only going to go so far with such a soundtrack. Not going 5.1 was probably a good idea.
repeat the DVD extras including text cast filmographies, text list of Poirot
books, a Suchet interview on this production, Suchet’s hosting an Orient
Express tour with history and 120 Years With Agatha Christie.
- Nicholas Sheffo