Until David Suchet came upon the scene as the definitive Hercule Poirot, the men who played Poirot tended to treat the great detective as a social buffoon. The 1974 adaptation starring Albert Finney won great acclaim, but Finney’s Poirot did not give the detective the dignity that Christie clearly gives him. Peter Ustinov was even worse in the 1978 Death on the Nile and 1982 Evil under the Sun, where he seemed to be imitating Inspector Clouseau of Peter Sellers’s The Pink Panther. So when David Suchet carefully studied every text of Agatha Christie’s to get a strong sense of the true nature of Poirot, the Christie lovers gave a sigh of relief. It seemed that the world was finally recognizing the reality of the Belgian detective.
But the lately released images for the upcoming Murder on the Orient Express, Entertainment Weekly, particularly the shot of Kenneth Branagh as Poirot, looks like the world of film has regressed in its depiction of our favorite Belgian. Christie describes him as dapper, very fastidious about his appearance. While he is greatly proud of his mustache, the “finest mustache in all of England,” he would never sport facial hair as ridiculous and messy as the hair in this image.
I was looking forward to the new movie, but this image of Hercule Poirot makes me concerned. If the director has so little respect for Poirot that he gives him such a bad image, what other liberties is he taking with this literary classic?