Desyat Negrityat (1987)

vt Ten Little Niggers; vt Ten Little Indians
Russia / 130 minutes / color with some bw / Odessa Dir & Scr: Stanislav Govorukhin Story: Ten Little Niggers (1939; vt Ten Little Indians; vt And Then There Were None) by Agatha Christie Cine: Gennadi Engstrem Cast: Vladimir Zeldin, Tatyana Drubich, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Aleksei Zharkov, Anatoli Romashin, Lyudmila Maksakova, Mikhail Gluzskiy, Aleksey Zolotnitskiy, Irina Tereshchenko, Aleksandr Abdulov.

Desyat - 1 the clifftop mansion that awaits the arrivals

This is vaunted as the only movie adaptation of Christie’s classic suspenser to be completely faithful to the original, with the character names retained exactly and the murders—both past and current—being precisely as depicted in the book. Unfortunately, this fidelity runs also to the book’s original title and to the precise wording of the nursery rhyme/music hall song upon which events are based; the figurines whose sinister removal one by one denotes the demises of the guests are definitely not “Indians” nor, as in the novel’s most recent incarnations, “Soldiers”. The N word is tossed around liberally; the setting is even identified as N Island.

All of which makes the movie pretty bloody hard to take, frankly. Even in 1939, when the novel was published, the rhyme was becoming offensive to mainstream society; by 1987, when this movie was made, the usage was completely reprehensible.

Leaving that elephant in the corner of the room for the moment, what about the movie itself? Obviously, if Continue reading