WHAT'S ON MUBI" IS A COLUMN WHERE I WILL WRITE ABOUT MOVIES THAT ARE CURRENTLY BROADCASTING ON THE MUBI STREAMING SERVICE.
Whodunnit is not a genre that appears frequently. It is not only rare, but also looks really hard to see a whodunnit mystery that really feels not only original but also tense. But whodunnit is one of my favorite genres, because if it's good it can be a really fun experience. Just look at Knives Out which came out last year which in my opinion is a very clever film, or The Hateful Eight which is probably one of the smartest films I have watched.
But I never watched whodunnit in the past. Until finally I met And Then There Were None on MUBI, which was directed by René Clair and adapted from the novel by Agatha Christie - a novelist whose majority of her work consists of detective and mystery - with the same title. I wanted to see what whodunnit made in the 1940s looked like , especially with the title suggesting that nothing else would be left, and of course referring to every character in it.
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Actually the film's story looks like most whodunnits , where a group of people are trapped in a building and one by one begins to mysteriously die (Yes, of course I remember The Hateful Eight even though Quentin Tarantino's film is much more brutal). Here, eight people were invited to a desert island by a man named Mr. Owen. On the island there is a large house with many beds and two servants, Thomas (Richard Haydn) and Ethel Rogers (Queenie Leonard).
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Arriving at the island and at the house, everyone has the same question: Where are Owen and his wife? Thomas, one of his servants, said Owen was heading to the island and would arrive at dinner time, but had not come. After dinner, Thomas plays a black plate which is a recording of Owen's voice saying that every occupant in the house - eight guests and two servants - had apparently committed murder, either directly or indirectly, and all of them would be tried in the house.
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And sure enough, one by one began to lose their lives in shocking ways. Poisoned, stabbed, died in sleep. But no one has ever seen the culprit. Until they realized that the murder was based on a song called "Ten Little Indians" which also coincided with a statue of ten Indians where everyone died one statue would collapse. This is where the murder puzzle game begins and begins to find out who exactly did this murder before all the statues fall down.
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A whodunnit film does seem to have considerable limitations, because it is basically looking for the killer in the middle of the people who are being murdered. That's why I say it's hard to see whodunnit that really feels fresh because almost all of them have the same foundation, and what sets each of these films apart is how the mystery is revealed, how each character interacts and reacts, and how the story will end. And Then There Were None , which was released more than 70 years ago, is a film that still looks fresh and tense, even though there have been many Whodunnit films since then.
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Besides the story which is indeed exciting and tense as time goes by and the number of residents decreasing, And Then There Were None is also filled with various characters with their own past, characteristics and reactions that are unique and interesting, and that is also one of the important things that makes this film. can continue to feel good. Since the majority of the film's time is spent in the house and the faces we see are just that, there is a big enough risk for viewers to feel bored if the characters don't feel appealing. Fortunately here, all the characters feel very much alive, with each one of them distrusting each other and generating ever-increasing tensions.
Another thing that makes me like this film is how they are able to fit a humorous moment in the middle. It may not mean to make the audience laugh, but enough to lighten the atmosphere and make each character feel less one-dimensional. Like in one scene where Dr. Armstrong (Walter Huston) is showing one of the tools of murder by saying "This instrument only means one thing: murder!" which was followed by a large thunderbolt on the window next to it. It's so cliché and it also makes the scene work. Or what about being accused of being Owen, Thomas decided to drink one of his alcohols because he was thought to have been poisoned and ended up drinking into the night.
But of course the biggest and most important aspect of whodunnit is how it will continue to keep the audience guessing. And it is true, as the film progresses I also have questions. What happened? Who is the killer? How did this murder happen? And when I was sure that I had accused one of them as a murderer, apparently he was killed in the next and I came back again guessing, and that's what made me really like this genre of film. Their ability to keep me guessing is such an attraction in itself, how they make me believe in one theory only to solve it in the next.
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