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  • =G=2 August 2003
    "Original Sin" is an almost 3 hour British t.v. miniseries "old school" mystery which centers on a murder at a waterfront publishing firm, numerous clues, and equally numerous suspects with the inscrutable Commander Dalgliesh (Marsden) and his trusty sidekicks hot on the trail. A rather convoluted mess of a story which is not particularly engaging given its length, viewers may find the conclusion to be too little too late. Recommended for those who have viewed the other films in this series, preferably in chronological order. Those unfamiliar with P.D. James' novels or this series of films should begin with the oldest first and work forward from there. The DVD I watched had no subtitles or CC and I did have some trouble with the audio and the dialects. (C+)
  • El Cine27 December 2001
    Warning: Spoilers
    [Vague spoiler]

    I just finished watching this on PBS, which has been showing it as a repeat. I was kind of disappointed with the direction it took in part three, when it chose to examine heavy themes of war and racism rather than provide an involving mystery and the appropriate clues. The lack of such nuts and bolts of a good mystery gives the show the tone of a bland TV drama on commercial television. The build-up of the previous episodes regarding the theme of original sin and sins of the fathers was promising, with the stuffed snake toy suggesting intriguing possibilities. But the third part takes this theme to a melodramatic letdown of an explanation.

    But what I'm most disappointed with is the absence of a climactic revelation, in which the detective pieces together how things really happened and explains it to other characters (and thus to the audience as well). In mystery shows of this sort, flashback is often used, and it's fun to watch and see what took place and how. Not only did this episode dispense with flashbacks, but also with any sort of explanation, period. Not even a denouement to wrap up loose ends. Apparently the filmmakers didn't want to bother, and instead thought that the histrionics involving the killer's suicide would leave viewers satisfied.

    A fatal decision, since they left behind a giant plot hole --- the killer actually had an alibi for the second murder! The person who turns out to be the killer tells the police that he/she was at a public institution at the time the victim was being strangled and dumped in the river. This story is then verified for the police by other nameless witnesses off screen, a common device in murder stories meant to erase any doubt about the character whatsoever. But there is no attempt made to account for this alibi, no revelation that a witness was lying, mistaken, etc. We are left confused, with the knowledge that the character had an alibi and couldn't be the culprit, yet did indeed commit the crime somehow. Very sloppy on the part of the filmmakers.
  • The story is interesting and educated with some good character development. My biggest disappointment is weak development of the lead detective. What saved the detective investigation aspect of the film was his two assistants.

    It could be they intended the film to focus on the employees of the publishing house. All of which were suspects. It's worth watching but if you are new to the Mystery Series I suggest Prime Suspect, Touching Evil and Heat of the Sun.
  • 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.
  • A real filmatic quality to this one, not least the opening scene. We have Dalgliesh reading poetry to some music and beautiful cinematography from a boat on the Thames with the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament. A quality cast too, Ian Bannen in his later years and the much under- rated Amanda Root in her prime particularly worthy of mention. A good plot, if slightly confusing opening , that is nevertheless worth sticking with.
  • Laight17 July 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Perhaps because so many good English mysteries come to America, we're used to seeing some terrific stories with great acting, directing, and story lines. This is a rather strangely bad piece of work. Roy Marsden plays Inspector Dalgliesh as a somewhat nasty and whiny man; the rest of the characters are all extremely unpleasant, and the one good person in the story ends up making a completely inexplicable decision at the end of the interminably long show (the other police sidekick is a terrible actress who seems to only be able to squint and wheeze at the camera). The writing is very poor quality, with constant speeches explaining what characters are doing or what they should be doing, and the direction is bafflingly amateurish. All in all, given that the people involved, including PD James, are for the most part talented professionals who have done far better work, this seems as though it were put together in a few weeks and then thrown onto television. Just not up to the standards of a Foyle, a Morse, a Lynley, etc.