Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Queering of Christie

I've long been a fan of Agatha Christie. I have a whole bookshelf devoted to her. I'm also a big fan of the David Suchet Poirot and Joan Hickson Miss Marple adaptations. Most of these were done in the late 80s/early 90s, but Mr. Suchet has done a few more in the past year or two and they've relaunched Miss Marple with Geraldine McEwan playing the title role. (Joan Hickson died several years ago, but will always be, in my opinion, the Miss Marple. McEwan plays Miss Marple much too twinkly and precious for my taste.)

Anyway, I've noticed a trend in these newer Agatha Christie adaptations: a lot of queering going on. Christie didn't utterly ignore homosexuality (in A Murder Is Announced, for instance, there is a quite open lesbian relationship), but she definitely didn't feature it as much as her recent adaptations suggest. To wit...

Body in the Library: In the book, a heterosexual couple plan the murder; in the new adaptation, the identity of one of the culprits is changed, making the dastardly duo lesbians.

Five Little Pigs: In the book, one character is a boyhood friend of the murder victim with a crush on said victim's wife; in the new adaptation, the boyhood friend does not have a crush on the victim's wife, but on the victim himself.

Cards on the Table: Now this particular book I only read once, so my grasp of the details isn't as good as they should be. However, I don't remember the book containing the intimation that the murder victim was gay, a lesbionic friendship, a gay murderer, and a gay policeman caught on camera.

I don't actually have a complaint about this queering in the adaptations, since they're minor changes to the story that more or less work, but I do find it intriguing. Why, exactly, do the adapters feel it necessary to queer Christie to such a degree? What do they think it gets them that a more "faithful" approach wouldn't? Any thoughts (especially from the film studies/literature professors I know pop in from time to time) would be welcome!

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