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Murder on the Orient Express is the third episode of series 12 of the ITV British television drama series Agatha Christie's Poirot. It first aired on 25 December 2010. It was directed by Philip Martin with screenplay by Stewart Harcourt and featured David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. The feature-length episode is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name.

Synopsis[]

Hercule Poirot travels to London on the Orient Express. During the first night of the trip, the train is forced to stop due to a snow drift that has partially obstructed the tracks. The next morning, the body of one of the passengers is found, the victim having suffered multiple uneven stab wounds. At the request of the company's director, Poirot launches an investigation into the man's death and quickly discovers that there is no shortage of suspects among the travelers.

Comparison with original novel[]

Spoiler warning: A spoiler is announced! The following section contains details about the plot of Murder on the Orient Express and its adaptation.

Loosely faithful to the original story, it has a number of major differences, such as the character of Cyrus Hardman being omitted from the story, with Doctor Constantine (who is changed from a Greek doctor to Mrs. Armstrong's American obstetrician) taking his place among the "jury", and Antonio Foscarelli being the lover of the maid (whose name is changed from Susanne to Françoise) as well as being the chauffeur. Most notably, instead of each member of the 'Jury' coming to Cassetti's room during the night and stabbing him one at a time, where they line up and stab him one after the other, resulting in him dying from the sheer quantity of wounds sustained rather than leaving any ambiguity about which one of the jury struck the fatal blow.

Following a trend of religious elements introduced to the series after 2003, the script includes extended religious and moral dialogues. Other deviations from the novel include scenes of the stoning of an adulteress on the streets of Istanbul, and Mary Debenham having a useless right arm as a result of injuries sustained while trying to stop Daisy Armstrong's kidnapping and being the organizer of the plan, whereas in the novel it was Caroline Hubbard/Linda Arden.

The adaptation is unusual in that the narrative begins with Poirot in the midst of solving his recent case in Palestine (referring back to the case mentioned in the book).

Helena, Countess Andrenyi's real maiden name, along with that of their mother's name, is changed from Goldenberg to Wasserstein, German for "water stone" then anglicized to Waterston. In the 1974 movie directed by Sidney Lumet, it had been Grünwald, German for "Greenwood". This movie version has Princess Dragomiroff volunteering to be turned in, while in the book it is Linda Arden who asks Poirot to turn her in, if anyone at all, as the lone assassin.

The adaptation concludes with an emphasis on Poirot's moral dilemma. Arbuthnot is tempted to murder Poirot and Bouc after the truth is revealed, but is convinced by the other murderers that doing so would make him as bad as Cassetti. This, Poirot's attitude towards the Istanbul stoning, and a conversation with Mary Debenham lead to Poirot presenting the police with the false account of a lone assassin. The murderers are clearly relieved by this, but Poirot continues to struggle with his decision as he walks away from the train.

A notable anachronism in this version is a reference by Mr. Bouc to "the famous battleship Bismarck", built several years after the events in the novel.

Spoilers end here.

Cast[]

Filming Locations[]

  • Rustem Pasha Mosque, İstanbul, Turkey (view from Sea of Marmara) - opening credit scene
  • St.Ursula Street, Il-Belt Valletta, Malta - Poirot walks down the steps at the start of the episode
  • St. Elmo Heritage Building, Valletta, Malta (with Rustem Pasha Mosque superimposed in the background) - where the lady gets stoned to death

Research notes[]

  • Bouc describes Princess Dragomiroff as going down the corridor like the "Battleship Bismarck". This ship was laid down only in July 1936 and only completed in 1940. It is unlikely Bouc would have known the ship well in the late 1930s in which this episode is set.

Gallery[]

Promotional Videos[]

See Also[]

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