MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
Author: Agatha Christie
Series: #10 of Hercule Poirot
First Published: 1934
Movie Adaptation: 2017
Original Title: Murder in the Calais Coach
*THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*
Since Agatha Christie’s The Murder on the Orient Express just came out as a movie, I have decided to write a blog comparing and contrasting them.
First of all, even though he dies in the first quarter of the movie, can I just point out how amazing Johnny Depp was as Ratchet?
I could not have thought of a more suitable actor for this role. Also, did anyone else notice Johny Depp’s famous stutters while he was trying to convince Hercule Poirot to help him? I sure did… cue Captain Sparrow.
One of my favorite aspects of the book was its historical content and accuracy, and I feel as though the movie did not stray far in this respect. Many of the multilingual aspects are incorporated well through passing pleasantries and if the conversation was intense or incomprehensible to someone who does not know the language, subtitles were provided.
Leslie Odom Jr., widely known for his performance as Aron Burr in the Broadway show Hamilton, played the doctor on the train. Odom was the only black character cast in the movie which ignited historical racial tensions that were not shown in the book. Although the doctor in Christie’s 1934 book was not black, I think the casting sheds light on the bigger picture that blacks were successful prior to the 1970’s and takes a broader stance on race.
Viewers are also taking note of the movie’s title “Orient Express” and commenting on how there are no asians cast in the movie. However, it has been pointed out that those who were able to afford to take the Orient Express were typically white, and the asians who served as bodyguards or servants to the wealthy would not have played a significant role in the book or movie.
Perhaps, the most drastic change of all was that in the movie a very dramatic avalanche occurs and the train is derailed. However, in the book there is only a snowdrift which prevents the train from moving forward and it is not derailed. Also, nowhere in the book does it mention the train is stuck atop a rickety wooden bridge on the side of a mountain. The setting in the book makes the reader feel as though the train is traveling through an open field and hits a snowdrift, whereas in the movie there is much more action and dramatic effect to play up why the train has derailed and come to a halt. Also, there are no crews that come to save the passengers in the book and no one is walking outside. The dynamic is completely changed in the movie because everyone is walking outside the train and Hercule Poirot is even conducting interviews outside.
Overall, there are way more disputes over details in the book than in the movie. The majority of which are focused on the interview process, the doctors evaluation, and Hercule Poirot’s thought process. However, I think these details were glossed over in order to create a more dramatic effect for viewers. I must say though, had I not read the book, I would have been very lost as a viewer because there was a lot going on behind the scenes.
Other important changes to note are:
- The first scene of the movie where Hercule Poirot solves a crime in Jerusalem is not in the book. This is perhaps to show his validity and impressiveness as a detective.
- The notes in the book to Ratchet were handwritten by several different people so that they could not be decoded by their script, but in the movie they were cut out letters pasted on a piece of paper.
- Ratchet does not hold a gun against Hercule Poirot in the book, but does in the movie when he wants his help.
- In the movie, Hercule Poirot finds Ratchet dead, but in the book the doctor and train manager find ratchet. They later ask Hercule Poirot to help figure out what happened.
- In the movie, passenger interviews take place in various places, but in the book interviews are only taken in the restaurant cabin.
- The doctor is more prevalent at interviews in the book.
- In the book, Hercule Poirot finds the red kimono in his suitcase alone and in the movie he is accompanied by the train manager.
- The scene of Hercule Poirot chasing Ratchet’s secretary on the rickety wooden bridge is not in the book.
- Ms. Hubbard gets stabbed in the movie and she doesn’t in the book, she just finds the knife in her bag.
- Hercule Poirot is shot by the doctor in the movie and he is never shot in the book.
- The scene where Mrs. Hubbard takes the gun and tries to kill herself is not in the book.
- Readers are never told if the train started running again in the book, but the train starts back up in the movie.
Over the years since the books debut in 1934, there have been various publications.