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Ordeal by Innocence

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  • Dr.SheppardDr.Sheppard Oxford, UK ✭✭✭

    Ordeal of Innocence. Comments of the Sarah Phelps adaptation for TV. SPOILER

    The title is there to describe the troubles of the young children who are protected by an overpowering mother. They are all innocent of the real world that they are trying to escape to. Each of the children (as grown-ups of varying ages) had a reason to want to kill their adopted mother, Rachel. Having been challenged to prove their innocence of the crime to each other, the four surviving children and the housekeeper find it difficult to come to terms with the news that the killer that has lived under the same roof as them for so long. In a desire for revenge they feel that they are unable to commit the crime they have all been accused of, so they collectively decide to lock away the killer in the same way he shut away his son, which resulted in his death. They stage the apparent suicide of Rachel’s killer in the lake in the garden on the morning of his wedding to his secretary. But as the final seconds of the film reveal, Rachel’s killer still is alive but his surrounding may not be to his liking.

    As a TV film in three parts, it was captivating and had all the suspense of a mystery and thriller. The identity of the murderer was kept hidden until very near the end of the film and leaving the children, now adults, to take revenge in an adult way – that could develop if the story were to continue. Congratulations to Sara Phelps; but this is not an Agatha Christie play.

  • Sounds like it would be a great thriller if it hadn't been attached to an AC title. I really hate when they do that - why can't they write scripts of their own? I don't mind if they use characters or ideas from other, better writers' books, but taking a well known book, dramatizing it into a totally different story and then calling it by the original name is stealing in my book - stealing the name and reputation of AC to sell the T.V.series. As a matter of fact, AC went completely the opposite direction, writing her non-mystery novels under another name, in order that they would be judged on their own merit and not as her works. 

    However, that brings us to another problem - part of the enjoyment in a mystery story is not knowing (and trying to guess) the ending. So if an adapter can't change the story, how can he/she make it fresh to people who have read the book? I think it is legitimate to change the characters a bit - give them new motivations, for instance, or enrich the inter-relationships. E.g. in "Evil under the sun" with Peter Ustinov, the scriptwriter kept the characters but gave several of them connections to the victim in order to tighten the story. That to me is legitimate. 

    @Dr.Sheppard: The "Innocence" in the title of the book is not innocence of the world - by the time the book starts, most of the characters have already moved more or less into the world. It is the innocence of the crime - the ordeal is that innocent people are suspected of being guilty. Hester says it directly to Dr. Calgary: ""It's not the guilty who matter. It's the innocent... It's we who matter. Don't you see what you've done to us all?" The point of the book is that the family feel that their ordeal starts when Dr. Calgary clears Jacko and by doing so casts suspicion on them all. SPOILER: By the end of the book they realize that their ordeal started long before - as long as they have been living with the murderer, who is also the unhappy victim of the real villian. 

     

  • Dr.SheppardDr.Sheppard Oxford, UK ✭✭✭
    @taliavishay-arbel interesting comments. I have read the story a few times and recently to have it fresh in my mind when I watched the adaptation. My review is on Sarah Phelps' adaptation; SPOILER - Rachel has tried to stop the children from experiencing the real world and goes out to 'collect' them and bring them back to her world. So, I think my thoughts on the innocents of the children stand up.
  • @taliavishay-arbel interesting comments. I have read the story a few times and recently to have it fresh in my mind when I watched the adaptation. My review is on Sarah Phelps' adaptation; SPOILER - Rachel has tried to stop the children from experiencing the real world and goes out to 'collect' them and bring them back to her world. So, I think my thoughts on the innocents of the children stand up.
    I see. My interpretation of "innocence" is based on the book. Bottom line - Phelps not only changed the ending, but changed the entire theme of the book.
  • MirandaMiranda England Investigator
    I think you're right.  SP changed the whole tone and theme and feel of the book.  It's what I meant early on when I said she'd rewritten it rather than adapted it.   Which is understandable now we know she doesn't read the books.
  • JS88JS88 Peterborough Investigator
    I really enjoyed the tv series. I think there has to be some leeway given to screen writers, and to expect every adaptation to be direct carbon copy of the original is unreasonable. To see how X director and X screen writer interprets ideas is a lot of the fun. Obviously it's subjective but that, too, is part of the fun and exploration. And also, if the writer here had written the script and it had been aired under a different title, don't you think people would have been accusing her of plagiarism to a large extent?
  • JS88 said:
    I really enjoyed the tv series. I think there has to be some leeway given to screen writers, and to expect every adaptation to be direct carbon copy of the original is unreasonable. To see how X director and X screen writer interprets ideas is a lot of the fun. Obviously it's subjective but that, too, is part of the fun and exploration. And also, if the writer here had written the script and it had been aired under a different title, don't you think people would have been accusing her of plagiarism to a large extent?
    Good question. Suppose she had given it a different title, and said that it was inspired by AC's book? After all, this is often done - see "West Side Story" and "The magical legend of the leprechauns", both inspired by "Romeo and Juliet", "Clueless" inspired by "Emma", "10 Things I hate about you" inspired by "Taming of the Shrew". That is fair game. But giving the series the same name, when it is so different, is wrong - it is banking on AC's name to sell the series, when the series is completely different - in characterisation, in plot and in ending. 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭✭

    But she didn't give it another name and she didn't say I was inspired by ACs book and the bare bones were too close to the Book, Not only would she have had to give it another name she would have to have changed the Characters names and more of the outline, if she had done that and I been on my own I would have not watched after Episode 1. I would have rather watched one of the things I have yet to watch, It would have taken more than Bill Nighy to make me want to watch Further, I watched all 3 Episodes because it was Agatha Christie, that is what The BBC and SP relied upon.


  • JS88JS88 Peterborough Investigator
    I think it was good entertainment but I see your point. Also, as said above, if it had more changes and a different title but was presented clearly as 'being inspired by' then it may have been clearer to the viewer, but even in that scenario most Christie fans would have tuned in. However, on a slightly flipant note, as it appears from these posts that the story was quite altered, and as I haven't read the novel, at least I can still enjoy reading it without knowing whodunit.
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