I just finished my umpteenth rewatch of Poirot (David Suchet. He is the only one in my mind), and I have a few thoughts on it and my popular media consumption in general. I wrote a post about the show specifically, so I’ll keep that part brief and move on to the broader issues in general in this post.
First of all, Curtain, the final episode (and final novel in the series. Fun fact: Agatha Christie wrote it in WWII in case she got killed, and it sat in a vault for thirty years before being published.) It’s interesting to think about the fact that she wrote it before she wrote roughly half of the later novels. I cried buckets watching Curtain–again. The last few series were darker than the originals in general, and the final episode was drenched in melancholy. I’ve written before how Curtain is the perfect episode. From the oppressive atmosphere to the exemplary acting across the board to the fact that for once in the later series, they stuck pretty close to the source material, it’s a solid ten.
I need to talk about Hugh Fraser in this episode. During the whole series, he’s our eyes and ears as the affable, hearty, naive, tenderhearted but thoroughly English Captain Hastings. He is our stand-in, and he grew into the role over the years. If David Suchet IS Poirot, Hugh Fraser is equally Captain Hastings. I’ve written before that the allies in the series haven’t gotten the credit they deserve, and the series really wasn’t the same without them. They brought back Hugh Fraser for Curtain, and from the first second we see Captain Hastings, it’s clear that the ravages of time have visited him. He’s still a fine figure of a man, but there’s grey in his hair, and there are lines on his face that previously weren’t there. There’s also a sadness in his eyes because of the death of his wife. The grief is heavy on his ramrod straight shoulders, and it’s not helped by the fact that his daughter is a more modern woman who doesn’t have time for useless emotions like grief.
The look on Captain Hastings’ face when he realizes that Poirot is dying/dead still haunts me. It’s the one still from the episode that stays with me long after I watch the episode (and makes me bawl my eyes out). As much as I adore David Suchet as Poirot, it’s Hugh Fraser’s Captain Hastings who carries this episode. Usually, he’s a bluff, hearty man who’s ready with a smile and a quick joke, but in this episode, he’s a shell of his former self.
In the last post, I wrote about my issues with the book series and a few with the TV episodes as well. I think it’s important to be aware of these issues, but it’s also inhibiting at times. I like to say that I don’t like movies, and while it’s not strictly true, I do find it an inferior medium to books (same with TV). I don’t like TV and movies in general because I find it difficult to believe what is happening on the screen is actually real. I rarely get lost in a movie or TV show the way I do novels, and I think it’s, ironically, because I’m being given too much detail whereas in novels, I have to imagine them myself. In fact, I don’t like books with too much description and just skim those sections.