Monday, September 22, 2014

Two Miss Marple Videos (2013)

     Two Miss Marple Videos (2013) A Caribbean Mystery and Gresham’s Folly. Starring Julia MacKenzie, who is no Jean Hickson, but she’s very good all the same.
     These new adaptations of Miss Marple stories pick up on hints in Christie’s texts and elaborate them. Mostly this deepens the characters and improves the dialogue. But they also use visuals to generate ambience and mood that Christie may not have had in mind. The Joan Hickson versions had a feeling of deep currents; here they are closer to the surface.
     Occasionally, the adapters allow themselves a joke. In A Caribbean Mystery, Ian Fleming appears as a hotel guest. He tells Miss Marple he’s writing a spy thriller but doesn’t have a name for his hero. The guest lecturer, presenting a slide show on the island’s birds, announce himself as “Bond, James Bond.” Eureka! This is also the story in which Mr Rafael meets Miss Marple. In a later tales gives her the task of preventing a crime. The murderer is a wife killer, a type that Christie used more than once, perhaps as a revenge on her unfaithful first husband.
     Both these tales rely on secrets from the past to make motives plausible. In both, the murderers are psychopaths, charmers who feign empathy they don’t feel, and in both the motive is mere money. But sometimes secrets are revealed inadvertently, and then self-preservation leads to secondary murders. Christie believed that killers were overconfident, that they could not imagine being outwitted by mere mortals, and so found added killings easy. There’s a good deal of truth to that, but I think it’s more likely that killers just can’t imagine how serious their crimes are, and therefore can’t imagine that ordinary mortals want to find them and thereby restore the balance we call justice. A lack of empathy not only limits one capacity for relationships, it also limits one’s ability to foresee how others will act, and so limits planning for the future.
      Both videos are good entertainment, especially for Christie fans. **½

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