There are spoilers in this article, but not on the murderous and dastardly plot itself. Your mileage with these spoilers before seeing the movie may vary.
Hercule Poirot’s mustache has had many famous iterations over the years, from Albert Finney’s neat take on the ‘stache, to the much more whimsical and perfectly sculpted look of David Suchet. In two films, Kenneth Branagh’s look has been the most brash and masculine of the three, taking up much of his face. Now we know why, as Death on the Nile actually gives Branagh’s Poirot a mustache origin story.
In its opening scene, Death on the Nile strays furthest from Agatha Christie’s sources. We are taken as viewers to the trenches of World War I, where Hercule Poirot is a much younger man and, in fact, a much younger man without a mustache. He’s also deeply interested in the details, even at this point, and his success in simply paying attention helps his kind through No Man’s Land and mount a successful attack.
They claim victory on the other side and all seems well when Poirot’s captain (also mustachioed) doesn’t think before walking and accidentally hits a tripwire, resulting in his death. Poirot is nearby when this happens and the shrapnel from the explosion slices through his face. Later, we learn that Poirot is courting a woman, who visits him in the hospital but is in a bad mood. Shamelessly, she shares his love and cheers him up by telling him he’ll just have to grow his mustache and she loves him anyway! And that’s where the origin story begins, although there’s more to come in the story.
In Agatha Christie’s novels, Poirot is very picky about the state of his facial hair. At some point in his writings, we learn that he uses “curling tongs” to land the remarkable shape. At another time, it is hot and Hercule Poirot laments that his mustaches become “soft”. But there is evidence of a large mustache, especially in Murder on the Orient Expressin which he has trouble with the soup. It’s normal then that Murder on the Orient Express This is where a new generation of fans discovers Hercule Poirot and that heavy mustache.
This version of Poirot seems to have taken that note and run with it. This Hercule Poirot still has a memorable mustache, and maybe even a big one, but in Death in the Nile this Poirot is less vain of this mustache. He is there to conceal more than anything else.
Sure, this version of the famous Belgian sleuth might not be exactly the same as the other versions, but one thing Hercule Poirot is still is is a bachelor, and Death on the Nile don’t change those beats. As the twisted murder plot unfolds, we learn from Poirot that the love of his life, the woman who supported him after his face was ripped off, died trying to see him while he was still recovering in hospital over Christmas. Thereafter, Poirot did not return home to lead a quiet life as a farmer. He grew a mustache; he hid his scars; he became a great detective of some renown.
Lest you think Kenneth Branagh’s mustache is less ‘fussy’ than Suchet’s or even John Malkovich’s, who held the role for televisionthe director of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile said the Hercule Poirot’s facial hair takes a long time to be right.
While it may be bushier and bolder than what Agatha Christie considered in her own written works, I dare say what Kenneth Branagh has achieved in this addition to the original tale is emotionally satisfying. Also, it provides another interesting connection to the director’s career, in that he used black and white footage for the World War I scenes, a tact he also used in the beloved movie. rewards. Belfast which was released in 2021. (Our opinion of Belfast.) These additions are notable along with some of the other changes from the novel.
What Kenneth Branagh brought to life on the big screen is obviously not the version of Poirot that Agatha Christie wrote. There’s too much action Poirot is involved in and frankly, he doesn’t look like it. But I’m personally thrilled that the trailer and the movie bring something a little newer, a little more exciting, a little more emotionally resonant to the big screen. I’m not sure you can improve on the original, or even try, but I think there’s room to keep making these movies, and I’m glad they’re trying something new.
Now, if only I knew what David Suchet himself thinks…