I can’t wait to see the new Murder on the Orient Express. Some might find that surprising. I’ve seen the Sidney Lumet version with Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot at least once or twice, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read the book. The twists hold no surprises for me, nor for anyone familiar with it; it’s one of those audacious Agatha Christie solutions that you don’t forget.
In other words, I know how it ends. I not only know who’s going to be murdered, but who dunnit, and why. This might suggest to some people that there’s not much point to seeing the movie, and certainly not to rereading the book.
But the end isn’t the point–and in fact, knowing what happens on the last page of a mystery frees the mind to pay more attention to what happens along the way. I want to watch for the telltale glances that signal someone’s guilty knowledge. I want to see if I can spot the moment when Poirot puts it all together. Even though I’m sure that in essentials, this version will be pretty faithful to the book, and therefore similar to the version I’ve already seen, I want to see how it looks this time, with this cast.
I think of life the same way. We pretty much know how it’s going to end. But that’s not what makes life interesting. What’s important is what happens along the way. What did we see? What did we notice? Did the leaves dance as they fell at our feet on a November day? What expressions were on the face of a friend when they shared something important and brought us closer together? As we progressed towards the certainty of death from the certainty of our own birth, what did we learn? Because those things aren’t known at all, even to a mind as great as Hercule Poirot’s, or Agatha Christie’s, and they’re not recorded there on the last page. We write them as we go.
The real mystery is in every day. I hope some surprises await you today.