AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
And Then There Were None was originally published under the title Ten Little Niggers (1939), a title taken from a childrens rhyme. This was promptly changed to And Then There Were None in the US printing, while subsequent reprintings have substituted the more acceptable Ten Little Indians. This purportedly has been the best-selling of all of Christies books. Christie also wrote a stage adaptation Ten Little Niggers (1943). The story has been adapted to the screen a number of times before with And Then There Were None/Ten Little Indians (1945), Ten Little Indians (1965), the all-star And Then There Were None (1974), a Russian version Ten Little Indians (1987) and Ten Little Indians (1989). Hideo Nakatas Incite Mill (2010) was also made as a homage, while Mario Bava drew on the basic plot for his giallo film Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971), which was a prototypical influence on the slasher film.
And Then There Were None was a BBC tv mini-series remake of the story made to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Christies birth. As such, the BBC have mounted an incredibly lush production. There is a top drawer cast, bringing together a number of celebrated members of the British acting profession Charles Dance, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Toby Stephens and a number of rising faces Burn Gorman, Noah Taylor, the great but underused Anna Maxwell Martin and in the lead Australian actress Maeve Dermody known from films like Black Water (2007) and Griff the Invisible (2010). All are on top form. The production looks fantastic in terms of the set dressings, the period cars and so on, while everybody is dapper if not dashing in the period costuming. It is exquisitely filmed, making great cinematic shots of the journey to the island and the ventures along the shoreline not to mention a beautifully jaw-dropping shot where the camera follows Anna Maxwell Martin outside and then cranes up to peer down into a massive sinkhole.
There are a number of changes made to the Agatha Christie work. Nobody has the gall to make a work called Ten Little Niggers anymore so that aspect is politely washed over and forgotten. So too it would appear is the Ten Little Indians title that most of the modern films have found an acceptable compromise. In a clear desire to cleanse the story of any racist overtones, the poem has now been retitled Ten Little Soldier Boys. There are other changes, particularly when it comes to the crimes that the various accusees are supposed to have done, which are brought far more into line with modern moral mores notedly in the book, Blore commits perjury to secure a conviction that leads to a man's death whereas here it is the far more nasty crime of his having stomped a gay man to death.
The other more subtle change comes in expanding the story to a mini-series in three one-hour parts. The original is essentially a chamber drama where everything happens inside the house most film versions start with the dramatis personae arriving at the house and end with all of the guilty parties dead making it a natural for adaptation as a play. In other words, what we essentially have is Big Brother (2000 ) but with dead bodies. By contrast, this tries to expand on the basics and open the story out. We get flashbacks to the crimes that most of the characters are guilty of and often in some depth. Perhaps one of the more controversial aspects is the attempt to add an element of sexual tension between Maeve Dermody and the dashingly handsome Aidan Turner even a bedroom encounter between the two of them although you have the sneaking suspicion that this is something that Agatha Christie would have disapproved of.