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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Murder, betrayal and the supernatural

Agatha Christie’s movies side by side
Mattie Baker
“Death on the Nile”, “Murder on the Orient Express”, and “A Haunting in Venice” by Agatha Christie form the basis of their respective movies. “Murder on the Orient Express” was originally published in 1934, with the others released not long after.

Agatha Christie, the proclaimed “Queen of Mystery”, has solidified her legacy with not only her writing, but also the movie adaptations that have come along with them. 

For the time being, there are three prominent movies that are based on Christie’s books. “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017), “Death on the Nile” (2022), and most recently, released Sep. 15, 2023, “A Haunting in Venice”. 

“Murder on the Orient Express” follows famous detective Hercule Poirot as he tries to solve an “impossible” murder on a train stuck in an avalanche. In “Death on the Nile,” Poirot must uncover who killed the wealthy bride whilst sailing down the Nile. Trouble follows Poirot into retirement in “A Haunting in Venice” when an old friend asks him to join her at a seance where a mysteriously supernatural death occurs.  

Each of the movies follows a similar kind of plot line in some respects. They all include Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh and an old friend to aid him in solving the case. Also in each movie, there is a complex list of suspects with motives to match whom Poirot must interrogate one by one. This may seem too redundant, but it’s simply the charm of a Hercule Poirot mystery. 

Not to say that the movies are carbon copies of one another, but rather just the same text in a different font. Instead of making the movies dull and unnecessary, however, it has the opposite effect. Viewers can enjoy the clever dialogue, aesthetic scenery and compelling characters in spite of the somewhat familiar plot line. The final aspect they all share is the classic, ingenious twist ending that everything Christie touches seems to include. 

That being said, not all of the movies are equal. 

“Murder on the Orient Express,” possibly the most iconic and recognizable of the movies, is ranked the least favorite, respectfully. It is not a bad movie or book, but I found it slightly underwhelming, especially in comparison to the other two. That may be, in part, due to the fact that the movie takes place on the train the entire time. I think it’s fair to say that everyone would rather get to see city sights than a locomotive stuck in a snowbank for two hours. But, ignoring the disadvantages of the setting, the characters were handled incredibly well. Some of the Hollywood stars seen on the Orient Express were Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe and Leslie Odom Jr. 

Ranking number two, regretfully, is “A Haunting in Venice,” which is actually based on Christie’s book: “Hallowe’en Party”. I don’t want to complain about it because I really did like it, but there are reasons why it isn’t my favorite. “A Haunting in Venice” does things a little bit differently than its predecessors. While all of the movies are classified as a mystery or crime, this one leaned much more toward horror— and not just because of the supernatural aspects. A few ghost stories are involved, but what really makes the movie horror-esque is the way it is set up, in other words, the reason why it’s number two. I admire “A Haunting in Venice” for trying to break out of its genre and was even excited for the supernatural parts, but unfortunately including those seemed to come at a cost. Instead of adding the parts in, they replaced what would’ve been more time with the characters. The other two movies focus more on each character, which I think is necessary for the audience to be fully immersed and affected by the ending. In all, the scares were a nice touch, but they left me struggling to find strong motives and, therefore, wanting more from the big “whodunit”.

That only leaves one left, my favorite: “Death on the Nile.” Not only does this movie have the character focus that “A Haunting in Venice” lacks, it also has the absolutely stunning scenery that we were deprived of in “Murder on the Orient Express”. During the movie, we get to see the pyramids of Giza, Abu Simbel, and Karnak, which are all beautiful ancient Egyptian landmarks. Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright are in it— what more do you want? The characters in this movie are some of the most entrancing and rich I’ve seen on screen. Each complete with an engrossing motive and backstory that fits them perfectly. 

In all, each movie adds something different to the beloved, classic mystery plot, so it really just depends on what’s wanted. This kind of versatility makes the franchise perfect for so many people, rather than just the crime lovers. And as for Christie, they don’t call her the “Queen of Mystery” for nothing— there are many more books to be adapted, and hopefully, more movies to see. 

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About the Contributor
Mattie Baker
Mattie Baker, Reporter
My name is Mattie Baker, and this is my first year on staff! I've always loved reading and writing. My goal this year is to write a complete book. My dream job, at the moment, is to work at Barnes & Nobles and drink Starbucks on the daily. I'm obsessed with action movies like "Bullet Train," "John Wick" and "James Bond." I also have a passion for art. I've been taking extra art classes for over 10 years! Later in my life, I hope to be a storyboard artist and author.

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