I went to the movies tonight (first time in forever thanks to covid) to see the latest version of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. I’m not wanting to talk about the movie overall (very enjoyable, although Hercule isn’t quite…right – a bit like Bond wearing a tails and asking for a gin and tonic). Rather, I want to talk about the opening.
Now, you have to understand I love Agatha Christie and grew up reading her books. I have nearly all of them on a shelf in my bookcase. Death on the Nile is one of the more famous stories (although not my favourite) so no surprise it was chosen as the second iteration for Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot. I haven’t seen his Murder on the Orient Express yet (although I plan on watching it soon).
The thing about this movie is that when it started, I watched the first couple of minutes becoming more and more convinced I was in the wrong cinema. Unfortunately, the opening went for a lot more than those first few minutes (and I did get to a point where I realised I wasn’t in the wrong cinema).
What the movie started with was backstory. Hercule Poirot’s backstory to be precise. It was an information dump of the long variety. And just like in a book where an author starting with backstory is a no no, so is starting with backstory in a movie. This opening could have been cut and the movie would have been no less for it. In fact, it would have been all the better for it. After all, if a huge Agatha Christie fan thought she was in the wrong cinema, you know there’s a problem!
Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think of the beginning? Have you come across backstory dump’s in either a book or movie that really shouldn’t have been there?