‘See How They Run’ Ends, Explained: Who Killed Copernicus and Marvin? What was the purpose behind it?
Tom George’s film, “See How They Run” takes us back to the golden days when the theater was not defunct and still equaled cinema. It was a time when Agatha Christie was at the peak of her career and everything she wrote created a sensation. It was a time when thespians were considered celebrities and could only earn their living by doing theater shows. So, let’s go back in time and observe the intricate details of a murder that took place in one of the most prestigious theaters of the city and witness the drama that is yet to unfold.
‘See How They Run’ Plot Summary: What is the movie about?
It was 1953, and The Mousetrap, a play written by Agatha Christie, became a huge hit. Furthermore, it had its 100th show at the Ambassador Theater in London’s West End. John Wolfe, who attended the centennial celebration, wanted to adapt the stage play into a motion picture. He was quite adamant about doing so, and he had already entered into a contract with Petula Spencer, a prominent theater impresario. Hollywood big Leo Copernicus, about to become a motion picture director. Copernicus always found Christie’s work somewhat disturbing. To top it all off, he had many creative differences with the film’s writer, Marvin Cocker Norris. Copernicus found the ending of the play too convenient and simple. He wanted to give his audience something more. She thought she would have a flashback at her climax, but Marvin opposed the idea. The two were unable to resolve their differences, and eventually, Wolff was called in to be the judge and make the final call. Copernicus asked both men to at least give him a chance to describe what he had written. The director added a lot of spice to an ending he felt was mundane.
Copernicus narrates that the hero goes to the remote castle, where all the suspects and the murderer are already present. The hero had a face-to-face encounter with the killer and he shot him. The assassin also retaliates, but the hero is saved by his partner, who jumps in and takes a bullet for his colleague. Marvin finds the climax highly comical; According to him, it did not blend with the tone of the rest of the film. The trio was unable to reach a conclusion because Copernicus had some prior engagements to participate. On the day of the centenary celebrations, Copernicus got into a fight with Richard Attenborough. Richard played the protagonist, Detective Sergeant Trotter, in the play. He was upset because Copernicus was flirting with his wife Sheila Simm, who was also a part of the play and played Molly Ralston. Copernicus falls on the cake while fighting Richard and then goes to the backstage area to change clothes. An unidentified man wearing an overcoat and hat attacked him. Copernicus was assassinated that night and his body was placed on the stage. No one knew who had committed the crime, and Scotland Yard was immediately notified of the crime.
Stoppard and Stalker begin to investigate
Inspector Stoppard and Constable Stocker arrive at the scene to investigate the crime. Constable Stocker was an energetic person and very passionate about his work. He even had a habit of jumping to conclusions almost immediately without giving them a second thought. Stalker took notes about everything so he didn’t miss any details. Inspector Stoppard, on the other hand, was more reserved and calm. He was a seasoned preacher and had witnessed many complex events in his illustrious career. He had his own unique way about things and the authorities did not interfere much as they had confidence in his abilities. Stoppard had no interest in cinema, art or any other creative field. He did not know who Copernicus was, and he had never heard of Richard Attenborough in his entire life. Stalker was shocked to hear. He was star struck watching the cast and crew of the famous play sitting in the auditorium. He was not happy to know that he could interrogate these celebrities one by one. During the investigation, Petula Spencer was interested in whether the upcoming show would have to be canceled due to the investigation. He feared that he would have to face huge losses as the shows became houseful. Petula entered into an agreement with Wolfe, which stated that Mousetrap could only be adapted into a film once it finished its theatrical run. It is in Wolfe’s best interest if the theater is closed and Petula informs the detectives of the same.
Stoppard and Stalker went to The Savoy (a five-star hotel), where Copernicus was staying, and from there they learned that he had a heated argument with Marvin a few days before he died. Marvin threatened Copernicus that he would kill him. Obviously, Marvin didn’t mean it, but he just said it out of anger and extreme provocation. Through Marvin, the detectives learned that Copernicus had suddenly moved to The Savoy and was covering all production costs. Marvin assumed that Copernicus knew something about the producer and was in a position to blackmail him. The detectives go and talk to Wolff and learn that Copernicus has discovered his extramarital affair with Anne Saville. Although Constable Stalker jumped to conclusions after each piece of evidence, Stoppard knew they still had a long way to go before finding some incriminating evidence. The interrogation of Dennis Corrigan, the ambassador’s usher, was perhaps the most ridiculous of them all. He said that he saw a suspicious character on the night that Copernicus was murdered. Dennis said the man wore trousers and a hat (he felt the need to point out that the hat was on his head and nowhere else), although he knew nothing about what he looked like. Dennis was as clueless as a goldfish, and he couldn’t say a single thing for sure. After talking to Richard and Petula, detectives got no leads.
Constable Stalker developed another speculative theory according to which Stoppard was the main culprit. Marvin got a glimpse of the women who came to meet Copernicus at the Savoy. Marvin gave them a description based on what he had seen that night. When Stalker went to drop Stoppard off at his house, he saw a picture of his wife, placed in his bedroom. Stalker found an uncanny resemblance between the picture and the description Marvin had given. He speculated that Stoppard’s wife must have had an illicit affair with Copernicus, leading the detective to kill her. The woman Copernicus was with that day was Stoppard’s wife, Joyce. Due to the same name and appearance, Stalker created his own fictional narrative. But this was an unfounded theory and proved wrong as Joyce was brought before Stoppard.
‘See How They Drive’ End Explained: Who Killed Copernicus and Marvin? What was the motive behind the murder?
Reality itself became a whodunit, and no one knew who the killer was. Richard, Sheila, John Wolfe and Anne arrive at Winterbrook House in Wallingford, Berkshire, as they have been invited by Agatha Christie for dinner at her home. Fellows, butler and husband of Agatha Christie, Max Mallowan, had no idea the guests would arrive at their place. Max told them that the invitation was not sent by them, but still, he welcomed his guests and asked the fellows to prepare dinner. Petula also joined them with her mother, as she had received the same invitation. Meanwhile, Stoppard and Stalker both find out who the killer is. Joyce told Stalker that on the night he was with Copernicus, he had a fight with an anonymous man. Hearing the description, Stalker knew he was talking about Dennis, who worked as an usher at the Ambassador Theatre. The stalker went to Denise’s residence and found incriminating evidence. Stoppard found newspaper clippings at Marvin’s house about the real-life events that inspired The Mousetrap.
Dennis came out of hiding and told guests at Christy’s residence that he wanted revenge for years of torture and emotional pain. Mousetrap was inspired by his life. Dennis lost his brother in real life. He thought Agatha Christie would tell her story to the world. But it was not what he imagined. Dennis had to watch that game over and over again and it frustrated him. People seemed to derive pleasure from his tragedy. When he heard that a film was being made on it, he decided to kill the director and stop the production of the film. After Copernicus was murdered, Marvin had new ideas for films, which he often shared with Dennis. Dennis said it sickened him to his core and that’s why he killed him too. Agatha Christie heard the commotion outside and realized what was happening. He made tea and put rat poison in a cup. He came out and spoke as if he wanted to resolve the conflict, but in reality, he just wanted Dennis to drink the poisoned tea. Instead of Dennis, Fellows drinks it and dies on the spot.
Life imitates art, and the storyboard Copernicus created for its climax comes to life. Stoppard couldn’t get a clear shot as Dennis held Agatha Christie and used her as a human shield. Sheela uses a bottle of wine to set the house on fire. Stoppard shot Dennis twice but later ran out of bullets. Dennis was about to shoot him when the stalker came out of nowhere and saved his life. “See How They Run” has its own “meta” moment, when Stoppard turns to the camera, breaks the fourth wall and, in classic whodunit fashion, tells the audience not to reveal who the killer is.
The final word
Dennis was not impressed by the fact that his story was adapted as a play, but he felt bad about how Agatha Christie handled and executed it. “See how they run” leaves it up to you whether the famous author had the right to do it or not. Dennis said he wouldn’t have had a problem if the distorted truth had come out. But Christie distorted the truth. He used his tragedy and pain as a motive for the character of a deranged killer. Dennis believed that after The Mousetrap play, his brother would be at peace. But Christy mocked his sorrow. Even Petula eventually said it was inspired by Denise’s case. Maybe Petula was right, but at that moment it seemed like she was very ungrateful to a man who had been through so much. Dennis had to witness it every day as he worked as an usher in the theater. He witnessed people being entertained by something that had caused trauma in his life.
Dennis finally tried to take an extreme step, but can he be fully blamed? Can we not say that the author was not sympathetic to his plight, and that he was totally indifferent to his misfortune? Many times, stories and other works of art are derived from reality, and are entirely subtle. Art imitates life, and sometimes life imitates art. We are allowed to take inspiration, and we are allowed to take creative liberties, but in the process, we must not exploit the resources at hand. Some people might also think that Denise had false expectations, and that she got excited because the drama didn’t give her much importance. If we look at the other side of the coin, we see that society has become so intolerant nowadays that if an artist starts tailoring his art according to the likes and dislikes of the audience, they may not do so. Able to create something. So, maintaining a balance is very important. As much as an artist needs to not be dishonest and exploitative, society needs to be tolerant and give the artist room to express himself.
“See How They Run” is a 2022 drama thriller film directed by Tom George.
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