REEL LIT REFLECTIONS: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Murder on the Orient Express Book Cover

Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Collins Crime Club
Publication Date: 1934
Summary: Just after midnight, the Orient Express is stopped by snowdrift. In the morning, the train’s passengers learn fellow passenger, Samuel Ratchett is dead in his compartment, and one of them is assumed to be the murderer. World-class detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer before the train arrives at their next stop.

The Perfect Murder Mystery?

As much as I love a good murder mystery, I actually don’t read them that often because you know what they say about too much of a good thing, right? Well,  this is my first time experiencing Agatha Christie, and I am happy to report that unlike my first Jane Austen experience and my first Neil Gaiman experience, my Agatha Christie experience was overall quite pleasant. I totally get why Christie is apparently the world’s best-selling author of all time. Although the story is a detective mystery, I thoroughly enjoyed the injection of humor throughout the story. There were quite a few times where I literally laughed out loud. Prime example was Poirot telling Ratchett that he wouldn’t take Ratchett’s case because Poirot didn’t like Rachett’s face. Man, that statement had me rolling, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Another random funny moment was Dr. Constantine daydreaming about his mistress in the middle of a murder investigation. It was unexpected and caught me off guard for a minute, but it definitely made me chuckle. Not only was it great to read a mystery with an element of humor, I also enjoyed that murder and mystery was in every aspect of the book. Yes, there was the murder at hand to solve, but there was also the previous murder and subsequent tragedies that “inspired” the current crime that asks the existential question: “Is it a crime to commit a crime against someone who has previously committed (and gotten away with) a crime?”

A Very Un-Special Episode of Belgian Monk

While reading Murder on the Orient Express, I got more of a Sherlock Holmes vibe (minus the heroin, of course) from Hercule Poirot. However, from the first scene in the movie that was completely made up (maybe it comes from another Poirot adventure), I got the feeling that Hercule Poirot was the other defective detective. Now, I will admit that I was initially excited about the concept of seeing another interpretation of Monk on screen, but those dreams were quickly shattered by this literal train wreck of a book adaptation. Where to begin with all the ways this movie was a major disappointment?

How about we start with the overabundance of Poirot. Is this what happens when directors star in their own movie? They shameless center themselves in everything because I hated every minute of Poirot staring at a photo and crying about “Katherine,” and it wasn’t even endearing like Monk pining for Trudy. It really served no purpose in the story, and it took away time that could have been spent on the intriguing mystery at hand. Although I felt the movie did no justice to Christie’s story, I appreciated the multicultural cast (even with the black doctor doing things that were less than implausible) and the cinematography. The movie was the opposite of stellar, but it was visually stunning.

Overall Opinion

I really enjoyed reading this book, and it makes me want to read another Agatha Christie book, but the movie was a totally different story. It took two sessions to get through a two hour movie because of all the unnecessary inconsistencies from the book. I totally understand that books and movies are different mediums, but the literary license that was taken for this movie is too much, and any fan of Murder on the Orient Express would probably agree.

The Final Grade

Page Turner: I enjoyed this book from beginning to end, and I am glad that I didn’t see the twist coming, but I had my suspicions of some of the characters from the beginning. I liked that everyone seemed innocent and guilty at the same time. My only disappointment was how the book ended. The end came abruptly and didn’t make much sense.

Burnt Popcorn: Like most avid fans of Murder on the Orient Express, I absolutely hated this adaptation. Although I am someone who has only dipped a toe into Christie, it was irritating to watch a star-studded cast absolutely butcher this witty and intriguing story under the helm of Kenneth Branagh.

Your Turn

So…are you a Christie fan? Have you seen Murder on the Orient Express, yet? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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8 Comments

  1. I love Agatha Christie. If you want a fun mystery with an unexpected twist, you should read “The Murder of Roger Akroyd.” It’s obscure, but it’s the book that put her on the map as a mystery writer. I haven’t seen the Orient Express movie, but from the look of it, and as much as I loved the book, I think I’ll pass.

  2. I read Murder on the Orient Express last year and it was also my first Agatha Christie book. I actually listened to it on audiobook. I really liked it. It was a true who dunnit. I liked being able to try to put all the pieces together before the ending was revealed. I thought about seeing the movie, but it had such terrible reviews I thought I’d spare myself. I’m glad I did! Do you have plans for another Christie mystery?

    1. Yes, I agree, this book is a total who dunnit!!!!! This is definitely not an adaptation to watch if you enjoyed the book, but I heard the 1974 adaptation is pretty good. I want to read one of the earlier books in the Hercule Poirot series next. Are you planning to read another Christie book?

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