Monday, June 6, 2011

Agatha Christie's The Pale Horse

Outside of the Bible and William Shakespeare, no one has sold more books than Agatha Christie. In The Pale Horse we have a story originally aired on A&E Television that explores in part, the mysteries of the dark world and witchcraft. When the young sculptor Mark Easterbrook played by Colin Buchanan is leaving a pub one night he witnesses the tail end of a murder. The victim, a priest leaves a piece of paper in Easterbrook’s hand with a list of names on it. When Easterbrook discovers that he is a suspect in the murder he begins his own investigation to prove his innocence. During the investigation he comes upon a small establishment called The Pale Horse which is run by three witches. Do they have a role in the murders that are taking place and the one Easterbrook is suspected of? Easterbrook and his girlfriend must discover answers before the bumbling police department investigating the case convicts him of the crime. Kate Mercer, played by Jayne Ashbourne comes along for the investigation and before long she becomes a part of the investigation in a way she would have rather not.

Let me be clear from the start, The Pale Horse is not a tale or movie to watch with distractions. I actually had to start and restart the movie 4 different times in order to stay with it to the conclusion and keep up with what was going on. Once I was able to sit down with no distractions, I actually found this made for television movie quite good and compelling. While there is story involved, it is an intelligent story for those who choose to follow along. The editing is quite nice and while the acting and cinematography is what one may expect for a television movie, it is still impressive.

As the story evolves it is quite believable outside of the bumbling detective heading up the case. There are moments that make it possible to follow along and figure things out regarding the mystery. The direction provided by Charles Beeson is quite nice and keeps the viewer involved and entertained. The lead character, Easterbrook is done quite nicely by Buchanan and he plays it with an innocence that has the viewer liking him. Another nice addition is provided by Sergeant Corrigan played nicely by character actor Andy Serkis. In some ways Serkis steals the show. Beeson does a nice job at taking the talents provided by Serkis and has him contribute to the story.

One of the things this taught little mystery addresses is the vulnerability of people who believe in the supernatural. The Pale Horse is an establishment that has three witches running it. Their pride and joy is a painting called The Pale Horse which represents the horse outlined in the Bible in the book of Revelations, chapter 6. Easterbrook during his investigation is challenged with the concept that he will see things as he chooses to see them. He is also challenged by the witches, while many may not believe or have the ability to see spiritual things, it doesn’t change the reality of the dark things around them. Of course the belief in those things doesn’t mean they are real, but neither does it negate them. Easterbrook comes to a place of belief but realizes there is more; it is love that can conquer the darkness. Whether the supernatural is real or not, those practicing it believe in their abilities, powers and other aspects of the supernatural.

Easterbrook learns the importance of being careful in dealing with the supernatural. He learns the lessons that ultimately, if one is not careful, they can loose the very things they love and care about. This lesson is a prevailing theme of the story by Christie. We see it through out the story line, and she challenges the viewer to contemplate this concept.

In most all faith journeys, individuals are warned about darkness and the concepts of evil. They are told to follow the example of love and the importance of love in their salvation. In Christian belief, central to that is the love provided by Jesus. While many focus on aspects of vengeance, judgment and so forth, the bottom line is that God is love, and, that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. Just as death in Revelation 6 is represented by the Pale Horse, so is life represented by love.

Depending on the price of the DVD, this could be a keeper, but I think it tends to be more of a rental. The DVD has a few features but nothing of much value. There is a brief biography of Agatha Christie and a bit of a filmography of 4 of the featured actors. Outside of a few trailers there are no video oriented features.

In a world filled seemingly with action, it is a shame that one has to find the time to sit down, without interruption to enjoy a good story. This DVD plays in many ways like a book. It is imperative that to enjoy it you turn off the cell phone, sit down, and stay focused on the story portrayed on the screen. If you can do that, and especially if you like a good mystery, this is a fun popcorn movie. There are some pretty good clues along the way, but none as important as the message of how love conquers all.

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