A Comparison Between Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” And BBC’s “And Then There Were None”

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‘And then there were none” is quite the tale! I´ll give you just a small warning. If you are expecting to relax on the sofa to read a tranquil Agatha Christie whodunnit then think again. This little tale will make every follicle on your body stand up, now that I think about, it´s perfect for the Halloween season. This is BBC`S chance to prove itself, can they match Christie´s masterwork? Since it´s an adaptation, the set-up is the same and quite simple: Ten people, most of them strangers to each other, are invited to a mansion on an isolated English island and all are equally likely to be shot, stabbed, beaten or hung. In other words, don’t get too attached. If the basics are the same, what´s the difference? Well, BBC tries to modernise the story, that´s where most differences lie, and what this essay will focus on.

Even though the setting takes us back to 1939, the 2015 BBC series involves details indicating a 21st-century production with a much faster pace. Among modern touches are also special effects; these include soldier figurines collapsing in the opening credits, which grabs the viewers’ attention with immediacy. Additionally, BBC modernizes this adaptation by adding erotic urges and sex scenes. Wait! An adaptation that adds unnecessary sex scenes? That’s the most original thing I´ve ever heard!

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As previously mentioned, Agatha Christie’s novel features great heights of tension and passion but always in a prim and proper manner. That’s not the case in the 2015 adaptation. Though merely hinted at in the novel, the physical attraction between Vera and Lombard leads them to an affair in the TV series; the tension between the two characters instigates in the scene taking place on the train when Phillip Lombard gazes at Vera Claythorne’s legs. Featured in the novel as well, this first eye contact between the two characters was introduced very differently. This is not the only weird sexually charged change this series makes, I don´t know why but BBC seems to have the sexual frustration of a hormonal teenager. I just love it when adaptions remove nuance and replace it with immature sexual scenes, he said, sarcastically. For the record, I´m not insulting the series, I´m describing it. BBC`s Philip Lombard has this weird unashamed lewd gaze; this is even further seen in later scenes showing Philip gazing at Vera’s bosom.

Is it just me or are these adaptations obsessed with changing Agatha Christie´s original ending? They don´t change it so much that it makes you mad, they change just the slightest bit to annoy you. The book implies that the outside world might eventually know the truth behind the killings, the miniseries, on the other hand, keeps the vicious reality contained solely to the island. It makes the events seem inconsequential, we have been all this time seeing every character die one by one, waiting to know who the killer is, just to know that the killer will go unpunished and that our characters died without anyone caring or even knowing of their existence. What a satisfying ending!

I know I might be a bit harsh on these adaptations but it´s just my job. If you can’t take criticism don’t make a series. It was obviously made for people to look at and respond. There are still a lot of good things left in there that I haven´t mentioned because I felt that they were unnecessary for this essay. Even though the BBC series seems to move away from the original story, it provides quite strong characterizations and takes suspense to a high level of genuine discomfort. I do have some problems with it, BBC seems to have a common case of what I like to call “chronic modern adaptionitis”[footnoteRef:1] , a rare disease that makes everyone who tries to make a faithful adaption make overdramatic and needlessly sexual scenes to appeal to “modern audiences”, combine this with a cast of famous blokes and you have a recipe for a BBC adaption. I´ve heard that the most recent BBC adaptions have been compared to, how do I put this, male bovine faecal matter. Let´s just say, the future doesn´t look promising. [1: This is a joke. The word “adaption” is incorrectly written on purpose. It´s supposed to sound like a disease (i.e. tonsillitis, bronchitis, hepatitis, etc.). You might be thinking “The joke is ruined now that you explained it!” and you would be correct but I´m not risking lowering my grade because of a joke. You can go back to your merry way now.


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