A Haunting in Venice producer explains how and why film differs from novel
Judy Hofflund says Agatha Christie's Hallowe'en Party is just 'the bones' of the new Poirot film.
After adapting perhaps the two most famous Hercule Poirot novels – Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile – Kenneth Branagh has now turned his attention to an Agatha Christie mystery that viewers will undoubtedly be less familiar with.
1969 novel Hallowe'en Party is the basis for his new film A Haunting in Venice, but while his previous two adaptations were relatively faithful to the original texts, Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green have taken a far looser approach to the process this time around.
Not only has the action been moved from a rural English village to the Italian City of Canals, but the entire plot has pretty much been altered – with just a few characters, themes, and motifs remaining from the original story.
Whereas the book begins with the murder of thirteen–year–old girl Joyce Reynolds while she is bobbing for apples, the film concerns the mysterious death of a medium – also called Joyce Reynolds – at a seance.
Meanwhile, the extravagantly moustachioed Belgian sleuth's resulting investigation goes in a very different direction in the film, even forcing him to ponder the possibility of supernatural happenings at various points.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, the film's producer Judy Hofflund explained some of the reasons for the changes.
“We had permission from the Christie estate – they were on board with us from the beginning [and] very supportive," she explained. "And, you know, I guess we thought Agatha Christies have been adapted for a long time in a lot of ways.
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"So hopefully if it's good... if it's a well-executed satisfying, fun-to-see movie – I think it is – then people will think 'I had a good time and thank God Agatha Christie came up the bones of a fantastic story'.”
Meanwhile, Hofflund also spoke about how she, Branagh, and Green "really wanted to shake it up" compared to their two previous Poirot films.
"Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile were similar to the extent that they were sort of... a lot of them [were] outdoors like they were travelogues, they were beautiful.
"And I think we wanted this to be dark and scary and a little claustrophobic and just to really shake it up and let it feel different. We just didn't want to do a third one that looked and felt the same."
- A Haunting in Venice location guide: Where was the latest Poirot film shot?
- How is Kenneth Branagh's Death on the Nile different to the book?
When Death on the Nile was released last year, Green explained to RadioTimes.com that it was important to reinterpret Christie's work rather than simply keep everything the same.
"What you want to do is to honour it, but you have to give yourself the permission to break and restructure in order to honour it," he explained.
"Because whenever you adapt anything, you have to find what you love about it. And at the expense of a lot of other things, you have to make sure that what you love about it comes through.
"And sometimes you have to undo some beautiful things in the book, or some delicate things in the book, or even some interesting things in the book in order to make room for what has to happen."
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