The Four Biggest Things A Haunting In Venice Actually Keeps From Its Source Material

Bobbing for apples is a fun game, if perhaps an old-fashioned one. I heard some confused laughter in my theater during the scene where Poirot dips his head into the pool of apples and tries to catch one with his mouth, and it makes sense: If you’ve never seen or heard of this game before, this all looks weird and goofy. But it is a real game people played (and still play) at parties, especially in the early twentieth century where this movie takes place. 

Poirot’s near-drowning in the tub of apple water is also one of the movie’s most blatant call-outs to the book. Although Poirot survives his drowning, in the book it’s a 13-year-old girl who gets her head forced under the water, and she’s not so lucky. The girl in question is Joyce Reynolds, who loudly proclaims earlier in the book that she’s seen a murder, and is murdered herself soon after. It turns out she was lying about what she saw, simply borrowing a story she heard from a close friend of hers, but the killer took her at her word and killed her before she could reveal more. 

The apples become a recurring motif in the book after this point, with Ariadne Oliver (played in the film by Tina Fey) declaring that she doesn’t think she’ll eat an apple again. The apple motif returns for the movie, but with a slightly different context. Apples are still intended as a sign of danger and lurking evil, except the movie’s version of Oliver still loves apples and never swears off them. For those who’ve read the book, this character detail serves as fun foreshadowing for the change in her character; unlike book Oliver, this version of the character is not as innocent or straightforward as she appears.

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