What’s the truth of murder? Do you know? Does Agatha Christie know? Period drama is not everyone’s cup of tea. It lacks modernity, something which many people look for in their entertainment. Despite this point, there are certain aspects of crime drama which never go out of fashion. The 2018 Terry Loane directed Agatha and the Truth of Murder, with a screenplay written by Tom Dalton, has a modicum of modernity which certain people might find appealing. Consequently, there are touches to the narrative which feel somewhat contemporary.
Prior to Christie’s Disappearance
Prior to Christie’s disappearance, the author had penned the novels The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1921), The Secret Adversary (1922), The Murder on the Links (1923), The Man in the Brown Suit (1924), The Secret of Chimneys (1925) and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926). Further to the six mentioned novels, Christie also penned a collection of short stories titled Poirot Investigates (1924). Could readers solve the mysteries with the first five-to-six pages? While it is possible, it’s unlikely.
The Loane directed film is not so much a period drama accurate to Christie’s personal history as it is a what if story set during the period in which the novelist was apparently missing.
In 1926, Christie was missing for approximately 11-days. The actual number of days the author was missing seems to fluctuate. Some sources have nine days, while others report 10 and 11 days.
A Slight Digression
Whovians might recall, during the David Tennent era of Doctor Who, this period was addressed in the 2008 Graeme Harper directed episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp.” Since teleplay writer Gareth Roberts wrote an entertaining narrative for a Doctor Who episode, there is no reason other writers could not do the same. Interestingly but sadly, Roberts made more references to Christie’s novels in 45 minutes than Dalton did in 92 minutes.
For Agatha and the Truth of Murder, Dalton has concocted a plausible account of events which might have transpired of the author had been engaged in solving a real-life murder. The teleplay writer suggests it is this investigation which inspires Christie to continue writing and possibly create the amateur consulting detective Miss Jane Marple.
Possible Novel References
Miss Jane Marple made her first appearance in the December 1927 publication of The Royal Magazine. The title of the published short story is The Tuesday Night Club. This story is was republished in June 1932 as part of the short story collection The Thirteen Problems.
The opening scene of Agatha and the Truth of Murder is reminiscent of 4:50 From Paddington. The 4:50 From Paddington was first published in the British Isles in Nov. 1957. In these United States, readers of Christie’s work will recognise the story as What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw!
Japp and Dicks
The way Ralph Ineson played Detective Inspector Dicks is reminiscent of how Philip Jackson played Chief Inspector Japp in the long running ITV series Agatha Christie’s Poiort. The mannerisms of both characters are identical. Did Ineson use Jackson’s performance as a guide to play his own character? Japp, with his first appearance being in the The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1921), is familiar to Christie readers. Because of fan’s familiarity with Japp, readers will draw comparisons between the two detectives.
Did you see what Christie is doing in the closing scene? The author is thinking about a novel title. Immediately after crossing through The Truth of Murder, Christie writes Death on the … Despite not fully seeing what the last word in the title is, there is little doubt the full title is Death on the Nile. Death on the Nile, a Hercule Poirot mystery, hit bookstore shelves in Nov. 1937 This was a full 11-years after the author’s mysterious disappearance.
Did you see any other references? For many Christie fans, there were not enough references to her work.
Each of the characters depicted in Loane’s film are worthy of Christie and her works. Agatha Christie, the title character, is played by Ruth Bradley. Agatha and the Truth of Murder is a significant departure from previous productions the Dublin born actress has worked on. Bradley is possibly better known in the British Isles for the work she did on Primeval when the actress was seen playing Emily Merchant during the fourth and fifth seasons. Inclusive of The Fall (2016) and Humans (2015-18), he actress has of course starred in other well received productions.
Game of Thrones fans will recognise the acting talent, Michael McElhatton, Tim McInnerny, Seamus O’Hara, Richard Doubleday, Ralph Ineson and Samantha Spiro, that plays Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Randolph, PC Spencer, Postmaster Wilson, Detective Inspector Dicks and Pamela, respectively. Including Bradley, very few of the Agatha and the Truth of Murder cast members did not makes appearances in the HBO series.
Is There a Trailer?
Loane’s film, first hitting television screens in the British Isles, saw a premiere date of 23 Dec. 2018. Netflix made the production available to subscribers in Canada and these United States on 31 Jan. 2019.
When Christie speaks of putting something small in a hole, the aurthor was deliberately making the misogynist feel small. Because Agatha and the Truth of Murder is set during the 1920s, the inclusion of misogynistic views should not surprise anyone. Misogynistic views were common place and adds weight to this historical accuracy of the film. Despite it being 2019, such views remain a constant reminder of how far we have not come. It’s preposterous how misogyny is still a thing. Such views belong in the past not the present.