Streaming on Amazon is Agatha Christie’s creepy mystery – And Then There Was None. The book, originally published in November of 1939, possessed what would be considered today an offensive title. When released in 1939 in the United States, the title was changed to “And Then There Was None.” Apparently, this is Christie’s best-selling novel and considered her masterpiece. Her talent in mystery storytelling is unsurpassed.
Of course, it is one of those tales that has been adapted multiple times on stage, film, and television. As usual, I am way behind the times having never read the book or seen any of the adaptations. Perhaps this is what makes this particular version astound me because of the great production and a fantastic lineup of actors – Charles Dance, Toby Stephens, Burn Goldman, Aidan Turner, Miranda Richardson, Maeve Dermody, Sam Neill, and others. From the opening scenes of the story, the mystery and foreboding of what lies ahead is expertly unfolded. Instantly, if you are unfamiliar with the story, you are drawn into the tale like those drawn to an island to meet their fate — you are hooked and can’t escape.
The story is about a variety of individuals who are invited to Soldier Island under various pretenses. Each invitation is sufficiently enticing to bring the group together consisting of eight men and two females. They arrive at a remote island off the coast of Devon, where they eventually discover they are stranded and unable to leave. Perched on a hill is a mansion owned by the mysterious Mr. Owen who invited each of the guests. However, upon their arrival, Mr. Owen is absent and apparently will not arrive until the following morning. To add to the oddity of the situation, in each room of the house, there is a nursery rhyme of Ten Little Indians is framed and hanging on the wall.
The guests settle into their rooms and meet for dinner. After dessert, a gramophone plays and loud speakers blare throughout the house the crimes that these ten individuals have committed by overtly killing or accidentally causing the death of another. They have arrived at their location to pay their due since their actions were unpunishable in the court of law. Of course, everyone denies their culpability except for one character, Philip Lombard.
The story is played out in two episodes filled with excellent performances. By the end of the first, three individuals have met their fate, which naturally panics the remaining guests. They begin to suspect each other or the mysterious Mr. Owen who they believe is hiding in the mansion. Sitting as a centerpiece upon the dining room table are ten figures in a circle. Each time a guest dies, one disappears, leaving the number remaining in the house.
I highly recommend this fantastic adaptation of a most intriguing story. Agatha Christie is indeed the queen of mystery and crime. There are advantages in not having read the original work before seeing this version. I’ve seen some complaints it wasn’t true to the book in the end.
Nevertheless, it left a lasting impression upon my unsuspecting mind – especially Aidan Turner wrapped in a towel. How do they expect the female audience to concentrate? We were all thinking, “and then there was no towel.”