I very much doubt if there is not a crime aficionado who is unaware of Agatha Christie’s bestselling mystery of all time, And Then There Were None. BBC TV aired their version with a starry cast as a three-parter over the Christmas holidays. If you missed it, you can now buy the DVD from Acorn Media.
Christie’s mystery, recently voted her best by the Crime Writers’ Association, has been adapted for film numerous of the times, amongst them are: 1945 as And Then There Were None, 1965 as Ten Little Indians, Maria Bravo’s Italian version in 1970 as 5 Bablole per la luna d’agosto. Even the BBC had a crack at it back in 1949 as Ten Little Niggers.
But this current version is Christie par excellence with its isolated island setting, a motley band of victims and suspects, and a fiendish denouement. Miss Marple— it isn’t. And if you are unfamiliar with the tale this précis might help: Set in 1939, ten strangers from differing backgrounds are lured to remote Soldier Island off the Devon coast for a get-together by the mysterious Mr and Mrs U N Owen. It’s not long before the guests all realise that none of them has ever met either of the Owens, who are absent from the cut-off island.
And Then The Were None is a beautifully produced mini-series, and is a showcase for BBC TV doing what it does best with a stellar cast including Aidan Tuner, Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson, Sam Neil, Toby Stephens, Maeve Dermody, Douglas Booth and Burn Gorman. A real advantage of spreading the story over three episodes is that it unfolds slowly, so that tensions beneath the gentility gradually surface before the mayhem begins. Having said that, at 180 minutes running time, watched in one sitting, you won’t feel that you’ve lost a moment of your life.
The cinematography is simply stunning with its use of colours to enhance scenes. It reminded me of Dean Semler's work on Dances With Wolves with its contrast of the landscape's bleakness and the luscious interiors. The attention to period detail and a terrific score helps lift this superb production head and shoulders above its predecessors. The transfer to DVD is very good but I’d love to see it in Blu Ray format and on 4K. Would I recommend it? Of course I would.