Unlocking the Mystery
In the winter of 2017, the Murder on the Orient Express adapted from the namesake novel by Agatha Christie will be screened, allowing audiences to experience the thrill of murder mysteries.
Ratchet, a rich American merchant, was killed on a train in the middle of a blizzard. Versions given by 12 passengers tell of how the accident happened. Detective Poirot finds that suspicion pointed at all of them. In the winter of 2017, the Murder on the Orient Express adapted from the namesake novel of Agatha Christie (1890–1976) will be screened at cinemas. The namesake directed by American film director Sidney Lumet (1924–2011) has long gained a grand reputation. Granted, the full story on the train has been made public; but you can feast your eyes on the new detective Poirot to get an inside look at industrial technology. You’re sure to experience the thrilling noir of the murder mystery genre.
The Queen of Detective Novels
Despite long-standing detective novels, 1841 was generally recognised as the year of their birth. Like the developments in days gone by, detective novels had their own “Golden Age.” The Cask and The Mysterious Affair at Styles, for instance, were published in 1920; and common knowledge has it that they both ushered in the Golden Age of detective novels.
Agatha Christie (1890–1976), supreme and unchallenged during the “Golden Age,” turned out to the author of the latter. She took up writing at 26 and had many books to her credit for the rest of her life, including 68 long detective novels, 21 novellas and short stories, 18 plays, one autobiography and two poetry anthologies. According to the Guinness World Records, Christie was arguably the best-selling author of all time; and her works were translated into over 103 languages and the sales figure stood at a staggering 2 billion. Of all works in all forms, the gross sales of the Bible and works of Shakespeare (1564–1616) gain the upper hand.
Christie’s novels showed a multitude of truths—like the luxury train running
through the Eurasian Continent, the cruise ship across oceans, the lonely island at sea and century-long residence in the country of London. Many new tricks were used in her novels. She excelled at digging deep into intrigue against each other and criminal motives in a secluded world. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None exemplified this at their best. This was true to life in the Golden Age that “everyone is suspected and everyone is impossible.” In recognition of her success, Christie received the “Edgar Grand Master Award” from the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) in 1955, the first of its kind ever (hence her nickname—the Queen of Crime).
Apart from mystery novels and plays, Agatha Christie took a shot at other literary forms. For example, Come, Tell Me How You Live was true to her life in the Middle East, along with the children’s book Star over Bethlehem. Moreover, she wrote several sentimental novels to her credit under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott. On January 12, 1976, the 85-year-old British writer passed away in her home in Wallingford, Oxfordshire and was laid to rest in St. Mary’s Churchyard in Oxfordshire.
Poirot and Marple
Of all her novels and short stories, Christie created two of the most famous detectives. One is the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and the other the rural detective Jane Marple. Fictional as both of them were, they had a large fan base on a global scale.
Hercule Poirot made his debut in
The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1920. It is recounted of Poirot that he was of medium height, with an egg-like head; the upper lip wore the straight, neat moustache and he even kept his body as clean as a whistle. By modern standards, he captured the essence of Virgo. He paid obsessive attention to tidiness. Meanwhile, he had everything coordinated and organised for the matter in hand, even the symmetrical layout accounted in no small measure for his residence in the Whitehaven Mansions. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd turned out to be a blockbuster and he swiftly rose to fame for his performance par excellence in 1926. In his lifetime, he figured prominently in 33 novels and 48 short stories. Following in his footsteps, movie stars were cast as the same character— like Albert Finney (born in 1936), David Suchet (born in 1946), Peter Ustinov (1921–2004) and Ian Holm (born in 1931). With its unique appearance, Poirot was cast in a distinctive role from others and established himself as a famous detective.
Jane Marple in the village of St. Mary Mead was on intimate terms with Poirot. The former was listed among few female detectives when it comes to mystery novels. For the first time in his life, Marple appeared in the book, The Murder at the Vicarage in 1930. Although in her 60s, was clearheaded and logical; and while relating the facts, she tended to be brief and on firm ground (hence the name Inborn Detective). However, she felt a great compulsion to stick her nose where it didn’t belong. People called her the “Old Cat” and the name has stuck. Marple really lent itself to films TV and the stage, as well as Poirot. Celebrated actresses like Margaret Rutherford and Joan Hickson (1906–1998) were cast as this character in various adapted versions.
A Well-known Answer to a Riddle
Published in 1934, the Murder on the Orient Express was attended by the illumination of The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case. Faced with passengers descriptive of a jury, Detective Poirot’s decision made this work hailed as one of the “Three Masterpieces of Agatha” by readers worldwide. The full story on the murder mystery of Ratchet was also made public.
With Sidney Lumet and Paul Dehn (1912–1976) as director and screenwriter, the Murder on the Orient Express was screened in 1974. The movie boasted an all-star cast, including Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall (1924–2014), Martin Balsam (1919–1996), Ingrid Bergman (1915–1982) and Sean Connery (born in 1930). Furthermore, coming closing to the original, the distinctive movie was shot through with a sense of the times and proved to be a blockbuster, either in terms of art or box office income. Albert Finney was Detective Poirot was on the shortlist of Oscar nominees for Best Actor and Ingrid Bergman won the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actress. In the decades that followed, Murder on the Orient Express was adapted many times and screened. In honour of Agatha Christie, a Japanese TV station went so far as to make it a TV series.
This time, Kenneth Branagh (born in 1960) directs the Murder on the Orient Express, and acts as Detective Poirot. In recent years, Kenneth Branagh flung himself back into the film industry. He not only directed such blockbusters as Thor and Cinderella, but played a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017). Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) is an eloquent testimony to his skills. Meanwhile, Murder on the Orient Express boasts an all-star cast— such as Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench and Josh Gad. As for a mystery which has long been firmly rooted in audience’s memories, being casted in a different mould from its predecessor is the key to the success of the remake.