23 April 2009 | wimsattm
'Original Sin' is a complicated story of murders at a prominent publishing house in London.
The novel 'Original Sin' is perhaps P. D. James' longest and richest book. Its many characters are fully and interestingly developed. Even the murderer is a fairly sympathetic figure. The book has multiple interesting narrative strands. It cannot be praised too highly.
The film, by contrast, is AWFUL. It should have been at least 4 hours long in order to do the complicated narrative justice. The casting is poor, and the acting for the most part is wooden. In the book, Frances Peverell and James de Witt are attractive young people. In the film, they are middle aged and are considerably less attractive than in the book. Roy Marsden's acting is uninspired, as is that of the actress who plays Kate Miskin. The murderer is a more stalwart figure in the film than in the book, which makes him less sympathetic in the film.
The themes of war and racism that one reviewer dislikes are central to the book. Without giving too much away, I will merely remark that the roots of the murders go back to World War II and that the alleged racism is connected to the horrors of the Holocaust. The young Jewish man on Dalgliesh's team understands the motives for the murders and as a result understands what the murderer was trying to do.
Finally, the excellent ending of the novel is cheapened by the different, sensationalized conclusion in the film. All in all, I'd say read the book, and don't bother with the DVD.