Death On The Nile: Toiling Through A Classic Agatha Christie

Death On The Nile
Death On The Nile

Delayed for long due to the pandemic, Death On The Nile, Kenneth Branagh’s most recent Agatha Christie adaptation, has made heavy weather as it stumbles into the harbor. It is a classic whodunit about a murder abroad a streamer as it meanders down the fabled Nile with a boat full of Anglo-Americans.

The horrible murder in Death On The Nile sees the generously mustached Hercule Poirot rise to the occasion, the role played by the director. Poirot goes about interviewing suspects, supervising the storage of the corpse in the galley freezer, and finally delivering the unmasking in the end.

All of this happens without once the captain asserting that the local police should in some ways get involved.

Death On The Nile Has Been Adapted With Some Changes

The 1937 original, Death On The Nile has been adapted by Michael Green, the screenwriter, with a few additions. People of color have been introduced. He has also toned down the presence of wealthy-hypocrite left-leaning characters. Christie had an intense dislike for them.

A startling prelude is added to Death On The Nile showing Poirot serving in a World War I trench. The origin of the mustache has also been unveiled. The balance of the rather tepid flat-dimensioned tale is downhill from the interesting opening.

Russel Brand plays Dr. Linus Windlesham while Jennifer Saunder and Dawn French play Marie Van Schuyler, the wealthy socialite, and her companion, Mrs. Bowers.

Sophie Okonedo plays Salome Otterbourne, the jazz singer while Letitia Wright is her niece cum manager. The latter is a schoolmate too of Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle, the heiress.

Ali Fazal plays Linnet’s cousin and lawyer while Tom Bateman is back as Bouc, Poirot’s cheerful helpmate. He was also there on the Orient Express.

The first murder is followed by more bodies, but Death On The Nile lacks the climax and the crescendo associated with an Agatha Christie thriller. Branagh’s character in Death On The Nile is supposed to have been a farmer in his youth. But Poirot was a priest, as depicted by Sarah Phelps in BBC. 

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