‘The Pale Horse’, When Agatha Christie`s On-screens Outreach the Book Ones

Last February BBC One studio launched 2 episode series based on Agatha Christie's novel "The Pale Horse". Director Leonora Lonsdale, who has a huge collection of short movies, together with Sarah Phelps created a new version of a classic thriller, designate Сhristie in collaboration.

We could know 4 options of different novels with the same name and much more similar plot: the first novel “The White Horse”, that Christie wrote in 1961, a little later, in 1996 a full-length film was released, in 2010 the plot was adapted for the series about the mysterious Miss Marple and now, in 2020, we are back to see Mark Easterbrook in the center of passions and murders in “The Pale Horse”.



So, there are so many versions that sometimes doesn’t clear whether the central story was pulled to the book, or the book was decided to be modernized. But you need to know maiden edition, as well as a tangle of murders, investigations and witchcraft roll from it.

Got the plot clear? Don`t forget, this is Agatha Christie

The series begin with the fact that Dolphin Easterbrook (Georgina Campbell, she also played in the Black Mirror, Dark Elements, Holby City) comes to three sorceresses to find out the fate of her marriage. In the next episode, she dies mysteriously. One year after, the line shows a sick woman, Jesse Davis (Madeleine Bowyer), who will be found dead at the house entrance with a list of victims inside her shoes. Among them, only two will remain alive and one of them is Mark Easterbrook.


From the movie "The Pale Horse"
From the movie “The Pale Horse”


You will be mistaken to get this plot clear and predictable at first. Don`t forget, this is Agatha Christie and everything interesting is right there to begin. If you have already read or seen the series before – you would like it. If you watch for the first time – you would, also. Both could find many interesting things there.

Something new to murder, magic, and psychodelics

For instance, Mark Easterbrook, performed by charismatic Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle, The Tourist, Dark City), was as calm and closed, with a reflection of the inner world in his eyes. An excellent acting game, where facial expressions and gestures are minimal, but his eyes are what attracts attention. Secondly, lovers of cinema symbolism probably notice commonly with Swedish `Midsommar`of  Ari Aster and “Pet Sematary” by Stephen King, particularly in an episode of harvest fair. That fusion of several stories adds a sense of something, playing with the inner viewer. Thirdly, in addition to murders and magic, there is a place for psyche and frustration, which was not in previous versions, where three base elephants include murder, magic, and psychedelics.


From the movie "The Pale Horse" 1Fy8ZB
From the movie “The Pale Horse”


The roles of the characters were changed and new ones appeared. So, Thomasina Tuckerton (Poppy Gilbert `Call the Midwife`, `Leonardo`) plays a wealthy heiress and dancer in the night club. After the death of Dolphins, she becomes Mark’s mistress. In the original film, her name is Tilly and she plays the fading stepdaughter of a noble rich man. Hermia did not become Mark`s wife in the film, as she was his girlfriend and colleague, what changed here and  Hermia, played by Kaya Scodelario (“The Maze Runner”, “The Skins”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”), was a second wife after Delphine`s death.


Worth watching for personal comparison

After viewing all versions of The Pale Horse, one gets the impression that everything could be changed in the plot. But the main thing is to save death.

Screen picture is so pleasant, that sometimes reminds you are watching `light` Lynch, as a change of focus, amplification of sounds, style, and aesthetics. The visual series simultaneously turn out to be very modern and aristocratic.  Excellent musical selection of the retro world, such as The Platters “My dream” mixed with piano classics was a stylish wrapper. Weapons are rarely exposed so masterly, especially with the tune of Erik Satie #Gnossiennes 1-6. Gold classics, literally.

As people fail to take so radical deviation from the usual plot, it’s not a full- star rates, but worth watching. At least, for personal comparison, and to suggest what kind of Agatha`s story also could be.


Read more reviews from the author.

Photos: MovieStillsDB


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