Series: Hercule Poirot #17
on November 1st, 1937
Format: eBook, Paperback
Source: My Bookshelf
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Agatha Christie's most daring travel mystery.
The tranquility of a lovely cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life.
Who's also on board? Christie's great detective Hercule Poirot. He recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Despite the exotic setting, nothing is ever quite what it seems…
Some of my fondest childhood memories, is visiting my Granny and my aunt over Summer Holidays and to this day can recall exactly where their vast Agatha Christie Collection was on the shelf. I remember how frightful some of those paperback covers were (why on earth did they ever do that? Did people honestly appealed to those?). Too scared to try to read them, Agatha Christie remained a name on a well-known bookshelf until I was practically an adult.
Thankfully wisdom comes with age, or is it with adaptations? My very first introduction to Agatha Christie adaptations, was Death on the Nile. And no, not the latest masterpiece by Kenneth Branagh. The one that was released the year I was born.
Ever since then, I’ve been a devoted Agatha Christie addict. But what is it with this story, set on the murky waters of the Nile in a country rich with history of greed, love and revenge?
“There’s something about this country that makes me feel wicked. It brings to the surface all the things that are bofiing inside one. Everything’s so unfair, so unjust.” – Rosalie Otterbourne
I remember the 1978 adaptation so well and this past Friday, we ventured to the movies for the first time in more than 2 years for the release of the latest adaptation of Dame Christie’s classic tale that our bound to become as synonymous to Egypt as the pyramids themselves.
Through all the adaptations, changes were made and all directors love to leave their own fingerprints, I don’t mind that at all. As long as the plot stays the same and those who have to die, do die and those who have to hang do, well…. You know the story. I thought Kenneth Branagh did this rather brilliantly and he left more than just a few new fingerprints, a shadow was also cast that might linger for some time to come and I do hope it’s not the last adaptation we will see from him.
Of course the first thing to do after watching the latest adaptation, is watch the itv adaptation as well.
And then to read the book. Good grief, I might have a Death on the Nile hangover here today. But all these different versions, got me thinking – who did it best and which one were my ultimate favorite? Let’s compare a few characters and plotlines and see if we can get the little grey cells to make a final verdict:
Poirot’s described in writing as having an egg-shaped head, often tilted to one side, and eyes that shine green when he’s excited. He dresses very precisely, and takes the utmost pride in his appearance.
My favorite has to be David Suchet. He really fits the description perfectly and while reading the book, that is exactly how I picture him. But I do want to give Kenneth Branagh a lot of credit. He does bring a certain element to the little Belgium Detective that has never been seen before.
Linnet Ridgeway Doyle
I didn’t care for her much and neither did Poirot or Agatha Christie if you read carefully. I think Emily Blunt portrayed Linnet perfectly. Credit to the director of the 1994 adaptation – one could never miss those pearls that played such an important role in the book. I believe Kenneth Branagh should have stuck to the pearls…
I didn’t care for him either. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, but ever so cunning. I think Simon MacCorkindale was a perfect – well, Simon.
Don’t worry, I don’t plan on going through all the characters, just two more that stood out for me.
Jacqueline De Bellefort
Hell has no fury… Jackie is one complex character and in the novel and all the adaptations, she is by far the strongest character and the key to the whole story. So who did it best? This is the most difficult choice of all and I can understand Poirot’s sympathy with Jackie and he so desperately tried to warn her.
“Do not open your heart to evil. Because if you do – evil will come. Yes, very surely evil will come. It will enter in and make its home within you and after a while it will no longer be possible to drive it out.”
All three actresses were brilliant and although Emma Griffiths perfectly captured the Latin elements of Jacqueline as described in the novel, Emma Mackey captured Jackie as a whole.
Every good novel, needs a moment of comic relief. If it can be a character, so much the better. Salome Otterbourne is actually a rather sad and pathetic character, but she does bring the perfect comic relief to this dark tale.
In the novel, the 1978 and the 2004 adaptation, I loved Salome Otterbourne. In the latest edition, she is a completely different character and I’m sorry to say, it didn’t work for me at all. So which character worked best for me? Well Angela Lansbury of course! The performance of a lifetime!
The story is set in on of the most alluring settings in the world. Agatha Christie visited Egypt more than once and described the location sufficiently. All the adaptations had beautiful cinematography, but the 2022 adaptation sure captured it best.
I am going to step on a few toes here, but some of the Agatha Christie adaptations, are in my personal opinion, better than the novels. I’ve enjoyed David Suchet’s Murder on the Orient Express for instance way more than the book. With Death on the Nile, it is not the case. Even with all the adaptations, the book is still best. But which of the adaptations came closest? And this is where I would have benefited from the advice of the little egg-head detective. I simply cannot make up my mind. All three made changes that still fit the basic storyline perfectly.
My final verdict will have to be to follow my example and make a weekend of it. Read the book and watch all three adaptations!