From the Page to the Screen – Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express Review

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From the Page to the Screen – Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express is a 1934 mystery novel written by Agatha Christie. It is a classic novel which remains one of the author’s best as well as one of the genre’s quintessential works. Its themes and twist remain powerful to this day which is why it has been adapted to the big screen twice by now so let’s compare these two versions of the source material.

 

THE 1974 VERSION

The 1974 film is the more respected of the two versions which is baffling to me. It was a pretty huge deal back in 1974 as it received a bunch of Oscar nominations and even a win for Ingrid Bergman in the supporting role. But even though it is respected, I find this adaptation to be solid, but very flawed and overrated.

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Image result for murder on the orient express 1974 gif

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PLOT

Admittedly the story is the best thing about the film. That’s because it adapted the novel so well and thankfully in a very faithful manner for the most part. I also really liked the somewhat changed ending. But unfortunately the plot here was just never as riveting as it was in the original.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

Most of the characters are very good here and the casting was for the most part superb, especially that of Anthony Perkins and Ingrid Bergman who steals the show in a deservedly Oscar-winning powerhouse turn. But the main character Poirot played by Albert Finney ruins the whole movie. He does not act or sound like his book counterpart at all.

WINNER – BOOK

 

EMOTION

I have to give this one to the movie. The novel was rarely truly emotional, but in the film we get that great scene with Ingrid Bergman and it was so moving to witness and the emotion was felt in such a short, but powerful scene.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

The film never really goes in-depth with its themes as much as the novel does. The ending is very good, but somewhat rushed and thus the complexities of the crime were not really explored too much.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Agatha Christie’s writing is sharp, vivid and full of great period and object detail. The film, on the other hand, has excellent costumes and is competently made, but never cinematic enough to justify its trip to the big screen.

WINNER – BOOK

 

BOOK 4: FILM 1

It is pretty evident that the book trumps the first movie adaptation by large. Certainly the film is more emotional and overall solid, but it is just never comparable to the excellent characterization, details and themes of the novel.

 

 

THE 2017 VERSION

The newest adaptation of this story came in 2017 and unfortunately received mixed reactions from both critics and fans which is a shame as it is easily the better of the two. This is one of the examples of how the critics can prove to be biased and incompetent in certain judgments as they gave a pass to the first movie too much whereas they criticized this obviously better crafted and more cinematic version.

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

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PLOT

The movie definitely has a competent adapted screenplay which is very faithful to the source material and it is consistently involving to watch. However, they added too much action for the modern audience which I did not appreciate.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

There is no denying the power of this ensemble cast of whom Daisy Ridley and Michelle Pfeiffer stole the show. But of course Kenneth Branagh is the standout one as he gave us a different, unique and worthy new Poirot and one of the year’s finest performances. Most of the actors were well cast and most got a solid amount of screen time but some were seriously shortchanged and the examinations were rushed in my opinion.

WINNER – BOOK

 

EMOTION

This is where the film is the clear winner. The book is pretty cold if I am to be honest, but this film is anything but. The entire third act is gloriously epic in terms of scale and emotion and watching Pfeiffer break down in tears was devastating as was watching Poirot struggle with his decision. They are all broken people and that was so well brought to the screen.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

The film is thus also very smart and sophisticated in its third act as it explores the nature of what is right and what is wrong and that sometimes maybe the law is not right and that you have to take action into your own hands. But that was first conceived in the book leading to one big draw here.

WINNER – TIE

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

And another clear victory goes to the movie and this time it belongs in the technical aspects. The book is superbly written, but the film does everything a big screen, feature book adaptation should do – it ups the action, the emotion, the spectacle and the visuals to a very high level leading to a respectably cinematic adaptation fueled with great costumes, beautiful score and terrific cinematography.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 3: FILM 3

We have a tie here. The film is cinematic and much more emotional and a much bigger spectacle. The book, on the other hand, has a much better story and also characterization. And because those two aspects are much more important, I give a slight edge to the novel but it was very close which was unexpected and ultimately hugely commendable. Kenneth Branagh should be respected much more for what he achieved here.

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