Based on a short story by Agatha Christie, The Witness for the Prosecution is a murder drama featuring sex, intrigue, and mystery. Brought to Blu-ray by Acorn Media, let’s take a look at this release!
The Witness for the Prosecution was originally aired as two one hour episodes as part of a mini-series, but for this release, Acorn has put the two together in a two-hour long movie. Also, this should not be confused with the 1957 film of the same name which was based on a play written by Christie, where this is based on a short story. Don’t worry, all this is not necessary in enjoying this story, but it is interesting to see how prolific Christie’s works are.
A rich and well to do woman has been found murdered by her faithful (almost to a suspicious level) servant, and her significantly younger love interest, Leonard, is immediately pinned as the only suspect. A recent change in the victim’s will naming this young man as her sole heir adds weight to the suspicions and he is fast tracked to court.
Thankfully, a solicitor named John Mayhew (played by Toby Jones, which many of you will recognize immediately from his many, many roles) happens upon Leonard in jail and he takes the case. Mayhew’s role as solicitor is quite interesting. He takes on and prepares the case for court, but doesn’t deliver the defense. Instead he becomes an observer of sorts.
The story itself takes place mostly around building a case and learning more about Leonard’s interactions with the victim, but through all of that we learn more about the recent war that has affected pretty much everyone involved in this story. There is little happiness to be found here, as pretty much every storyline is dark and somewhat depressing.
That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a worthwhile or good story. I found that this felt more like a television show than a movie, with it’s pacing, which makes sense given that it was meant to be seen in a two part mini-series. But for all that, it had a very cinematic quality to it. The formula to Christie style murder mysteries proves to be timeless, as the more of them I watch, the more I realize that I haven’t lost interest in the twists and turns that they usually present. If you like developing your theories as fact and evidence is presented to you, then these films will certainly be up your alley.
As I mentioned before, the film has a bit of a dark and drab air to it. That feeling is relayed to the viewer through the choices made in presentation. A lot of darker scenes with earthy tones definitely can bring you down to the gravity of the content, which is effective. Throughout these darker scenes, the picture remains mostly clear, however there is a softness in many scenes that I think doesn’t translate as well to quality, even if it portrays an emotional response.
The 5.1 channel surround use is really well done, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. Ambient sound effects were convincing and very welcome. The dialog was clear and the music fit in well with the tone of the film.
- From Page to Screen: Bringing Witness to life
- Postwar Fashion: The World of Witness
- Anatomy of Murder
- What Makes Christie Resonate Today?
- Filming on the Front: When the Somme Came to Liverpool
- Sarah Phelps’s WWI Story
- The Cast on Agatha Christie
- On Location: The Theatre, The Courtroom, Le Touquet, and Liverpool
- Character Introductions: Kim Cattrall on Emily French, Monica Dolan on Janet McIntyre, Toby Jones on John Mayhew, Billy Howle on Leonard Vole, Hayley Carmichael on Alice Mayhew, and Andrea Riseborough on Romain Heilger
- Trailers for other Acorn releases
For a standalone miniseries, there is a ton of nice to have little extras here. Watching everything above will add about an hour or hour and a half or so of content, which is really cool to see. Most of these features are very standard making of and interview style offerings, From Page to Screen being the best of the bunch in my opinion (it’s about 20 minutes long and has a bunch of history on the production).
This set has the standard Acorn packaging, with a matching sleeve and slipcover, with full art on the disc and an insert with advertising for other Acorn releases. Nothing fancy, but definitely not as bad as the standard setup we see from bigger studios.
Toby Jones is criminally underrated, in my opinion. I’m always glad to see him whatever I’m watching. In this case, he portrays a struggling solicitor who takes on an uphill murder case and is along for the ride with us as the truth makes it’s way out, through the twists and turns that you can expect from an Agatha Christie source. If you’re a fan of murder/mystery, pick this one up.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.