Friday, 27 September 2013

Polish trailer for 'The Big Four'! (A frame-by-frame look)

A trailer for the Polish broadcast of 'Tbe Big Four' has now been released on YouTube! Thank you to the anonymous commenter who alerted me. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHoaIKpxYuM. Press the 'read more' link below for a frame-by-frame look at the trailer. SPOILERS to follow!


We start off with the shot we saw in the ITV Drama trailer recently. Poirot is observing the chess table, presumably before the game between Savaronoff and Gilmour Wilson.

A close-up of the chess pieces in action follows.


The next two frames shows a dying man in the street. Difficult to say who exactly. Any suggestions? Update: Danny suggests that this is John Ingles' Chiense servant, with the message for Hastings. That sounds very probable.

The other set of chess pieces.

Next, a man is lying dead in a drawing room. Again, I can't make out which murder victim this is supposed to be. Any ideas? Update: Danny suggested in the comments section that this could be Jonathan Whalley. That sounds likely.

Hooray! Look who's here! It's Japp! Judging by the previous glimpses from the chess game, it seems Japp has called for Poirot's assistance before the game (not after, as in the novel). They are evidently present during the game. Also, I'm beginning to think script writers Gatiss and Hallard have increased the importance of this incident from the novel, judging by its prominence in this trailer.

...and here's our murder victim! I assume that's Savaronoff, anyway. Update: Actually, it's difficult to say. Age-wise Savaronoff makes sense, but it was Gilmour Wilson, the young American, who was killed in the novel. Judging by the layout of the room and the placing of the flags (see later screencaps), the victim is on the Russian side of the table, so to speak, so Savaronoff makes sense. But then the plot must have been changed in transition from page to screen. Eet eez a mystery, as Poirot would say.

The next shot shows Poirot in what I believe to be a morgue (see later screencaps).



Next up, we have a dimly lit theatre and what looks like Sarah Parish, who is playing Flossie Monro. As you will see from the later screencaps, she's A) in trouble and B) present at the same location as what looks to be the denouement. This, as well as the press release we saw earlier this year, leads me to conclude that her role in the novel has been significantly expanded (and changed, obviously).


Then we have Whitehaven Mansions. Delighted (but not surprised) to see that the flat makes an appearance in this film. Also, notice the elephant thingy by the window, last seen in Elephants Can Remember (I half expected them to forget about that piece of continuity once that case was over). Poirot shows two people a card with Death and a number four on it. Not entirely sure who these people are, but I think the one to the right is probably Japp (Philip Jackson). Possibly Hastings (Hugh Fraser), but that's less likely. The card is, I assume, a reference in some way to Number Four. He seems to have been given the role of 'Death' in some way or other (see later screencaps).

...and then we're back with Flossie Monro. In BIG trouble, it seems.



Next up, Poirot is meeting up with someone. Or walking past someone he recognises from somewhere. Now, if I'm not entirely mistaken this is the exact same location that was used in Third Girl and The Clocks (somewhere around the Inns of Court, probably Inner Temple). Could be wrong, though.



Back in the morgue (see earlier screencap). Again, I struggle to identify the murder victim. Any suggestions? It seems his fingerprints are gone, so someone obviously didn't want him to be identified (in the film, that is!). Update: Martina suggests in the comments section that this man might be the chess player, and that the marks on his fingers are to do with the electrocuting device. That's possible, but again I struggle to understand whether the chess player is supposed to be Savaronoff or a much older Wilson. Also, didn't the electrocuting just leave a burn on his hand? Still, I think Martina might be on the right track. And I have to re-read the novel, that's for sure!



Back in Whitehaven. The last frame suggests Poirot has just about solved the 'Chess Problem'. Also, the chess piece he's using is from the chess board that was seen on screen in Third Girl! He has a chess board by the window in the living room area. Lovely bit of continuity. With this and the elephant thingy, I think the production design team deserve a pat on the back this time around.

Next, we're back in what I assume is the denouement scene (see previous screencaps). I've seen some photos of this set leaked online. Why Miss Monro is sitting on a chair in front of the stage, I have no idea. But the four chairs on the stage are presumably for the Big Four.

And here we have the master criminals. Not in person, but in paper. The one in the front must be Madame Olivier, the skeleton is Number Four, I think (see previous screencap of the card). Behind him we have Li Chang Yen, presumably. And behind Madame Olivier we can catch a glimpse of what has to be Abe Ryland.



Has Poirot met his match?!? Surely not. He seems to be bracing himself for something in the first screencap. Could it be the curtain that falls down in the next shot? (curtain - Curtain, ha ha). In any case, the third screencap seems to show the Big Four, and possibly Poirot. Difficult to tell from that distance and in that resolution. The stage set looks Chinese/Oriental.




...and then we're back in Whitehaven again. This time he's searching for the name of a company, it seems. Max Berman & Sons in Berwick Street? Can't remember that from the book? Does anyone know?




Next, we're back at the scene of what appears to be the central crime of this episode - the chess game. Two crucial things to notice in the first screencap. One, there's a Soviet and an American flag, presumably a reference to the two chess players. Two, Poirot is carrying a dispatch case which looks remarkably similar to the one he was carrying around in adaptation The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Is this intended? Does it serve the same purpose (i.e. 'the tools of my profession')? In any case, it seems this is the scene in which he finally solves the chess case.



Now what? An explosion? Is this the same building? If it is, then Poirot is in big trouble. Could it be a scene in which he fakes his death? Or just a different setting and a different murder victim? Reminds me of Taken at the Flood. Time will tell, I suppose.

But look! Here's Japp again! In Poirot's chair? Not a good sign. Or is it? I don't think anyone's ever been in his desk chair for the entire run of the series. And George (David Yelland) is back! Hooray! I know he has been rumoured to appear in this episode, but I didn't want to take it for granted. Japp's handing George a letter. What does it say?

SPOILER SPOILER

*Takes a deep breath*. Is it really? Can it be? Yes, it is. Poirot's funeral! The scene was rumoured on Twitter when they were shooting it. This will surely be a very emotional scene. Again, it's difficult to tell from this distance and with this picture quality, but I would hazard a guess that the woman in the middle is Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran), standing next to Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Japp (Philip Jackson) and George (David Yelland, with the valet bowler hat).

The box is lowered into the ground...

...and they cunningly avoid displaying his age. Love it. That would have caused such a debate anyway. Below his name it says "Requiescat in pace", which is Latin for "Rest in peace". I assume this is a Catholic ceremony. Also, you might catch a glimpse of what will follow him to the grave in the bottom right corner.


Here's a better look - in case you didn't recognise it. It's the walking stick that has been with him since the beginning of the series! A nice touch.

Finally, there's a moustache shot, just to round things off.

A summary:
- What an amazing 30 seconds trailer! Lots of clues to the episode and a very emotional tease towards the end.
- The chess game is clearly a lot more important than in the novel. So is Flossie Monro.
- We got a few glimpses of Japp and George, and what is almost certainly Hastings and Miss Lemon.
- Poirot will 'die', just like in the novel. I wasn't sure of that until this very moment.
- The denouement has been significantly changed. It appears to involve Flossie Monro, a theatre with lots of stage props (including a Chinese-looking stage set) and all four master criminals. No sign of Hastings, but he must be involved somehow - surely? And Poirot appears to be in peril of his life.
- I'm slightly worried that Hastings's part in the story might have been reduced. He isn't with Poirot in any of the scenes (possibly apart from the scene with the card in Whitehaven). It's probably just the way they've edited the trailer, but it makes you wonder.

Comments? Have I missed anything? Have you noticed something I haven't? Do you have any idea who the three unidentified dead bodies are (street, morgue and drawing room)?

27 comments:

  1. Bravo Eirik. Loads I'd missed when I first watched it.

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    1. Thank you, Jimmy! I was surprised by how much I had missed, too. They certainly managed to add an impressive number of key scenes to a trailer that's only 30 seconds long.

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  2. The dead man in the living room is most probably Jonathan Whalley, notice the dragons and bits on the table, jade figures wouldn't be out of place with them.

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    1. I think you're right. That certainly makes sense. Thank you!

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    2. You're welcome, Thank you for the time you've spent on this Blog, I've enjoyed reading it.

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  3. Here's a translation of the Polish voice-over, from IMdB user "ueetba":

    "They are just four, but have big "appetite" for power, significant influence in the crime world and global ambitions. Is the Belgian detective able to thwart the plans of the mysterious organization? "Hercule Poirot: The Big Four". New episode of the final season on Friday, October 4 at 20:10 on Ale Kino+."

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  4. Just something to add, the dead man in the street looks like he has a knife in his back, so he is presumably John Ingles' Chinese servant, the one with the message for Hastings.

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    1. Oh yes! I didn't think of that! Sounds likely.

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  5. Isn't the man at the morgue the chess player, and that is why his fingertips are burnt? It's been a while since I read the novel, but wasn't there some kind of electrocution going on at the chess board?

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    1. Hi Martina! I think you might be right, yes. Difficult to say from the few glimpses in the trailer, but there is a definite resemblance. And the victim's left hand is indeed partly burnt by the electrocution (in the novel, that is). Thank you!

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  6. The press release states that Savaranoff dies; in the novel it's Wilson, with Number Four masquerading as Savaranoff (highly unlikely, in my opinion, because in the novel Savaranoff was overweight and old, and you'd need more than makeup and wigs to achieve that). Here, if the press release is correct, then I'd hazard a guess that Number Four will disguise himself as Wilson, which is an easier one to pull off. But Michael Culkin is playing Savaranoff, and for some reason, he doesn't look like the dead man in the morgue or the man who falls over the board. In fact, the opponent sitting opposite the victim looks fatter (he has bigger fingers, at any rate). So did Mr. Culkin lose some weight, or is there something going on here that we don't know about?

    The theatre which Flossie Monro goes to, containing the Oriental stage - is that the same one used in "Three Act Tragedy"? There's something very familiar about it. The temple-like place definitely looks like the one used in "Third Girl" and "The Clocks." It seems some locations are being recycled, although who knows in what way. Also, before seeing the trailer I had a theory that Monro was going to take the place of Countess Rossakoff, but it appears as though she'll be innocent as she is in the book (though not 'removed from the scene' as she is in the book).

    Of the old guard, Japp looks to have the more prominent role as of now. I have this dreadful suspicion Hastings and Miss Lemon only appear as mourners at the funeral. I really, really hope they have more to do, because it would be a huge disappointment if that was the only role they played in the proceedings. I know Hugh Fraser will be front and center in "Curtain," but this looks to be Pauline Moran's final episode on the show, and if it's only a cameo, it would be a huge disrespect to the character and the actress who portrayed her. At this point, this is my only concern with the episode. I really hope I'm wrong, and that all three get sizeable roles. But it's disconcerting nonetheless.

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    1. Actually, you know what? The bearded man in the morgue is not Savaranoff, but the body Poirot examines in the next screenshot IS, which leads me to believe two separate scenes were combined. After examining the chess scene more closely, I do think the man who dies is Culkin. But it's not Culkin-as-Savaranoff whose body is seen is close-up. The beard and hair are not as neatly kept as the person's at the chess table. It's another victim entirely, although I'm not sure who. It can't be Whalley, because he is bludgeoned quite violently. It can't be Paynter, because in the book his head is shoved in a fireplace (and this man doesn't look like Steven Pacey). Perhaps it's the person who is seen falling in the street with a knife in his back? Maybe it's Ingles' servant, made a Brit to downplay the racial overtones? But I do know it's not Savaranoff.

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    2. That's true! I had forgotten that the press released mentioned the fact. I agree that Number Four masquerading as Wilson makes more sense than him masquerading as Savaranoff. The glimpses from the trailer are quite confusing, though, and I'm beginning to think they've changed the entire premise of that particular crime. It certainly doesn't look like Michael Culkin. So something has definitely been changed. Will be interesting to see exactly what.

      The theatre isn't the same as in "Three Act Tragedy" (that was the Novello Theatre in London, I think). I read somewhere online what theatre they used for this scene, probably on Twitter, but I can't find it. It was a variety theatre in London that Suchet has a personal connection to (something to do with his mother, I seem to recall). Locations are probably being recycled mainly because they were filming this in London, and they've used most London locations more than once already. But they could have been more inventive with that temple-like place. It's an atmospheric location, but there must be similar, good ones elsewhere? As to Monro, judging by the press release (which I've now re-read), she has become Poirot's deputy detective of sorts (rather like a number of other female characters in previous episodes): "Poirot is joined in his investigations by his old friend Japp (Philip Jackson), the dogged journalist Tysoe (Tom Brooke), and struggling actress, Flossie Monro (Sarah Parish), in an attempt to snare the killer and shatter “The Big Four” for good."

      Which leads me on to your comments on the old guard. I share your suspiciions as to Hastings and Miss Lemon. I strongly suspect that Hugh Fraser's part in this story has been significantly reduced. Based on the sentence from the press release I just referred to, as well as the trailer, I'm tempted to suggest that Monro, together with the added character of Tysoe, will take his place in all but the funeral scene. He isn't included in the list of people that will aid Poirot in his investigations.

      If that's correct, I really don't understand why they included Hastings in the first place. Obviously, they sort of had to if they wanted to include the funeral scene, but still...a cameo? I suppose the same could be true for Miss Lemon, too, but then I think the press release is seriously misleading. It does say 'Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson and Pauline Moran are re-united with David Suchet for Agatha Christie's The Big Four'. That would suggest some sort of reunion, not just cameos at the graveside. Like you said, that would be a huge disrespect to the actors. The Agatha Christie website posted a set photo of Miss Lemon's flat (or rather, a corner of a room with a table and a telephone), so that could suggest that she's in at least a couple more scenes than the funeral. Personally, I've had a theory that Miss Lemon could replace Hastings as (undercover) secretary to Abe Ryland, so I think I'll cling to that hope until we have evidence to suggest otherwise.

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    3. I agree with all the ideas in your second comment.Savarnoff and the man in the morgue are two different people. That was my initial thought, too. He could be Ingles' servant, but then what's all that about the fingerprints? Wasn't he just stabbed? Hm. Will have to think about this. It's possible that they have changed the murder method for one or more of the murders, too. Gatiss did that with the teacher in Cat among the Pigeons.

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    4. No, I meant that the hand Poirot is examining is Savaranoff's, it's just the body whose face is shown is not him, and probably another victim. They seem to have combined two separate morgue scenes - one involving the unknown victim, the other Savaranoff. If you look at the picture of Poirot lifting the blanket in the morgue with the bricked wall, you can see that the body is Culkin's because the face can be made out. So Savaranoff DOES die at the chess match via electrocution, and Culkin is not as recognizable because his appearance is made out to be as Russian as possible.

      I, too, don't understand why Fraser and Moran would be brought in if their roles would only be brief appearances. Surely they must have more to do, but then why is Japp the only prominent person in the trailer? Maybe the Polish station wants to keep their roles a surprise for the audience? It seems so strange. I remember the photo of Miss Lemon's flat... but that could easily be a scene where she is called and informed of Poirot's "death." I hope I'm wrong, and it's Poirot himself who calls her to get her to do something. I hope Poirot is not relegated to just Japp, Flossie and this Tysoe (who was never in the novel to begin with - if he replaces Hastings here, well, let's just say I won't be happy!).

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    5. Ah, now I understand. That makes sense, thank you!

      Well, the Polish station have given them upfront credits on their website, it says "Cast: David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Pauline Moran", and that's the only names listed. So maybe you're right, they are keeping it a surprise. But then why would they show Japp - if they want the return of the gang to be a surprise? Still puzzled. I had the same idea about Miss Lemon's flat, I just really hope that isn't the case. If all we get is Poirot, Japp, Monro and this Tysoe character I would be quite annoyed actually. But Ian Hallard did tweet about the evening of their reunion several weeks before he tweeted about the funeral scene. So unless the first tweet was in connection with the read-through (which is possible I suppose), I really hope there's a proper reunion scene they've kept from us. In any case, ueetba the IMdB user should give us a clue once he's seen the episode next week.

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  7. If the hand and the head are from separate scenes, I would guess the shot of the head is of the Mi5 Agent / Asylum patient that stubbles into poirot’s bedroom, simply due to eliminating the other deaths. I always thought it was weird the way they just left the body in poirot’s Flat in the book, maybe they changed it for the film?

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    1. That's a good suggestion! Seems possible.

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  8. After seeing what happens to Poirot's cane, I have this odd little mental image of a post-credits scene, with Poirot frantically digging up his own "grave," saying "Zut alors! I never dreamt they would do that to my favorite walking stick!"

    I wonder what this funeral scene will mean for the end of "Curtain." The latter funeral has to be somehow more powerful and meaningful than the one in "The Big Four."

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    1. Haha, I had the exact same thought! I started worrying about how they would explain the absence of his walking stick in the other episodes (or rather, how they would explain its miraculous reappearance). So yes, I suppose he could get hold of it after the truth about his "death" is revealed ;)

      As to "Curtain", I doubt we'll actually see a funeral scene in that adaptation. I think it's more likely that they will emphasise the presence of Hastings by keeping the letter and highlighting the emotional aftermath of the death (and possibly an off-screen funeral). I can't imagine a funeral scene without Japp and Miss Lemon, now that they've been reintroduced in "The Big Four", and we already know that they won't appear in "Curtain". Not to mention Mrs Oliver, the Countess, Spence, Race sr and jr and all the other acquaintances over the years. So my guess would be that this scene in "The Big Four" will be the only one. But I could be wrong, of course!

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    2. That's a shame, I was hoping they would have Miss lemon, Japp, Ariadne Oliver and The Countess as cameo's at the funeral in curtain, We know they are all in the filming block for the series 13 episodes so I wouldn't have thought a funeral appearance would have been too hard.

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    3. Well, we should never say never, I suppose. But considering they filmed Curtain first and somewhat separate from the others (October 2012), and almost the entire cast list has been leaked online, I'd be surprised if they've managed to keep quiet about a graveside reunion. Not to mention finding a gap in their schedules.

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  9. First promo pic

    http://www.cyfraplus.pl/ms_galeria/fotobase/41551_c.jpg

    So thrilled :)

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    1. W-O-W! This is so fantastic - I can't contain my excitement! THANK YOU!

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  10. Your posts are always fantastic ! Thank you so much ! What surprise me is the Tarot game; I don't thing Poirot is a "esoteric" person.

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy them! Yes, the Tarot card is a bit strange perhaps, but I'm sure it serves a purpose for the plot. Poirot has shown before that he can display an interest in the occult and the supernatural if it's neccessary for the solving of a specific case.

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About Me

I'm a passionate fan of Poirot, Agatha Christie and the ITV series. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or requests, please e-mail me at poirotchronology@gmail.com, post a comment on one of my blogs, or get in touch on Twitter @pchronology. (I used to call myself HickoryDickory)