We have all experienced that frisson of horror, when we see a book turned into a film and the characters are nothing like we imagined them. Indeed, such horrified reactions hit mainstream news only recently, when outraged racist viewers of The Hunger Games took to twitter to express their disgust at the fact that their favourite character had been cast black, while other nice people complained about how fat the heroine was.
But I trust the Gentle Reader will accept my outrage at the BBC production of Appointment with Death, originally an Agatha Christie novel featuring detective Hercule Poirot, is fully justified.
The abomination is not a matter of changing physical appearances contrary to clear descriptors of the author: no blonds suddenly appears brunettes or vice versa. Rather, it is a moral change, a significant indicator of the mindset of the Dark Ones.
In Iran, weirdly enough, the BBC has a reputation of being “pro-mullah”, and in this episode, they show that the pejorative epitaph is well-deserved.
In the book Appointment with Death, we have the character of Ginnie, a young girl who appears to have become, through the hardships of life, scatter-brained -crazy, if you wish. At the end of the book, Poirot tells Ginnie sturdily that there is nothing wrong with her mentally, and advises her to take up acting as a career, assuring her that she has the talent become a great actress, and would in fact make a wonderful Ophelia. The epilogue takes place a few years after the main events of the story: Ginnie has become a renown classical actress, has just come off the stage having played Ophelia to great acclaim, and shares a nostalgic drink with her old friend Poirot, marvelling again at his insight in detecting the seeds of talent in her when she was mentally broken, frightened young girl.
In the BBC film of the book- never mind they change the whole plot, the motive, the murderer, everything- at the end, Poirot tells Ginnie to remember that God is always around to help her, and to keep faith in times of darkness and stress.
You lying clown.
Not a word on the acting. Did the venerable BBC producers consider it too modern, too progressive, to advise a woman to take up acting as a career? Why? Why would they change that, and turn it instead to a recommendation to keep up faith and remember God? What? Seriously? Come again, Poirot?
We were watching together, the princess and I, and after I shrieked in horror at Poirot’s lunatic advice to young Ginnie, I turned to the princess and screamed: “That is not what he says at all! At all! He tells her to become an actress! It’s nothing to do with god! She becomes a famous actress!”
The Dark Ones. Even here, even at the BBC. Always around, ready to slip in the slightest opportunity, to remind us, to steal our minds and thoughts.