Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ArtFIFA 2017: Agatha Christie Contre Hercule Poirot


FRANCE | 2016 | 57 MIN | French

This film clearly illustrates how little, until now, have we understood the real genius of Agatha Christie, at least vis-a-vis her novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It is only when Pierre Bayard undertakes to stage the novel as a play that he ends up discovering an amazing, original concept of this novel.

At first the film takes us through Agatha Christie's early biography and what motivated her to write. Then it focuses on Pierre Bayard's staging of the play, his need to minutely analyse Christie's writing, the novel's characters and scenes, and even to look into the police investigative tools that he himself then applies to understand better the novel's action and timing. This leads him to discover that the way the novel and its plot have been understood until now is not exactly what the novel insinuates. Unfortunately, if I say anything more, I would give out too many clues and spoil the film, which in itself becomes an investigative narrative, a search for the clues of Who's Done It?

The film elucidates Agatha Christie's technique and intent, and lets the viewer to discovers how much she was in the forefront of the crime novel genre, how avant-garde for her times, to the extend that it is only now this aspect of her writing is becoming finally understood. 

I had a problem with only one aspect of this film: the way the interviews with English researchers were audibly translated into French, both English and French simultaneous narrations heard at the same volume. Since neither of the languages is my mother tongue, and I acquired them both later in life, I had a hard time, actually had failed to pick up any of them clearly enough to understand what was being said. When previously presented with a similar situation in a film where one of the languages was my mother tongue, I had no problem to hear my native tongue clearly. I additionally suspect that people with some hearing problems, even slight ones like tinnitus, would also have  problems to pick up one of the languages more clearly, even a mother tongue. I therefore recommend that the film has a written translation s.- t.  to facilitate the understanding of what is being said.

Agatha Chritie as a child
Agatha Christie

“The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) is one of Agatha Christie’s most celebrated novels. Its renown stems from a plot twist that was highly original for its time: the killer is hidden behind the mask of the narrator himself. This earned Christie the wrath of some critics, who considered the artifice dishonest, a violation of the conventions of the genre. Eighty years later, Pierre Bayard, a professor of literature and psychoanalyst, revisits the book in order to deconstruct it. His textual analysis leads to an exploration of the context of the work’s publication and the private life of the mysterious novelist. Bayard finally arrives at a stunning conclusion.”

Born in Washington, Jean-Christophe Klotz is a graduate of the Centre de formation des journalistes in Paris and of Paris II (Economics, Information and Communication). He wrote the documentary Kigali, des images contre un massacre(2006), presented at the Semaine de la Critique in Cannes in 2006. In 2009, he directed his first feature-length film, Lignes de front.
Filmography | Lignes de Front (2010) ; L'Argent, le sang et la démocratie - A propos de l'affaire Karachi (2013); Kigali, des images contre un massacre (2006).

Cinematography: Alberto Marquardt
Distribution: Arte Distribution
Editing: Pascal Ariel
Music: Jean-Christophe Klotz
Producer: Estelle Fialon
Sound: Marc Soupa
Production: Les Films Du Poisson


For more information and FIFA film festival and scheduling, visit the Art FIFA website.

In 2016 Montreal's PAC Museum held a commemorative exhibition to honour Agatha Christire. You can read about it here.

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