WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for A Haunting in Venice.
- Katherine, Hercule Poirot’s first wife and great love, haunts him throughout A Haunting in Venice, impacting his relationships and beliefs.
- Katherine died in a train accident while on her way to visit Poirot in the hospital, leaving him closed off from love and full of guilt.
- Poirot’s personal isolation and lack of faith in the afterlife stem from the loss of Katherine and his belief that everyone he loves dies.
While Hercule Poirot encounters a number of spooky specters in A Haunting In Venice, the ghost that haunts him the most is a woman from his past named Katherine. In the latest Kenneth Branagh adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel, Michelle Yeoh’s fraudulent medium Joyce Reynolds attempts to flex her perceptive powers by discussing Poirot’s past ties to death, and she name-drops “Katherine”. To viewers who did not see Branagh’s previous Poirot movie Death on the Nile, the mention of Katherine can be confusing.
One of the most significant differences between Agatha Christie’s original vision of Hercule Poirot and Kenneth Branagh’s cinematic interpretation is his past. Branagh’s version is a WWI vet who still bears many of the emotional scars that came from his horrific experience in the trenches. However, there is one entity from his past that haunts him more than any resurgent memories — Katherine. Despite the namedrop, Katherine is not part of A Haunting in Venice‘s cast of characters.
Katherine Is From Hercule Poirot’s Past & His First Love
The Katherine that Joyce Reynolds refers to in A Haunting In Venice is Katherine Poirot — Hercule’s first wife and his great love. Katherine is long dead by the time the movies catch up with the world-famous detective, but her memory hangs over him like a shroud, impacting his relationships with others and his personal beliefs. Since Katherine passed, Poirot has never allowed himself to truly love again, choosing instead to immerse himself in his detective work.
Katherine appears briefly in an old photo in Murder On the Orient Express, but she gets a proper introduction in the flashback prologue of Death on the Nile. It features a young Hercule Poirot in action during WWI, showcasing his powers of deduction to save many lives in combat. However, a triggered booby trap results in facial scarring for Poirot, and he is visited by his fiancee, Katherine while recovering from his injuries. It is in fact Katherine who suggests that he grow a mustache to hide his scars, which becomes the origin of his iconic upturned facial hair.
Death On The Nile Revealed How Katherine Died
While she is only briefly mentioned in A Haunting In Venice, Katherine’s memory is much more prevalent in Death On the Nile. The origin story of Poirot’s mustache provides information on Katherine’s backstory as well, including the circumstances of her death. Katherine was actually on her way to visit Poirot in the hospital as he continued to recover from his injuries when she died in a train accident. Once his great love was lost, Poirot resolved that he had loved enough for one life, and closed himself off from the prospect of further love in his life.
Katherine’s death is featured in Death On the Nile to highlight the fact that Poirot has no interest in more in-depth relationships. It’s further emphasized by the fact that Poirot loses his good friend Bouc during the events of the movie. While at the end of Death On the Nile he shaves his mustache, symbolically opening himself up to the possibility of love, it’s clear that the wounds inflicted on his soul by Katherine’s passing are not closed in A Haunting In Venice.
A Haunting In Venice Proves Hercule Poirot Is Still Haunted By Katherine’s Death
While Katherine is only briefly mentioned in A Haunting In Venice, she still looms large in Poirot’s motivations throughout the movie. Part of the reason Poirot is so dead-set on proving Joyce Reynolds is a fraud is because it would destroy his personal beliefs–or lack thereof — in regards to what happens after death. The loss of Katherine, combined with his experience in WWI and the many murders he’s solved, left Poirot with no faith whatsoever — not in God, not in the afterlife, and certainly not in the ability to communicate with the dead.
Perhaps even more significant than the impact Katherine’s death had on Poirot’s belief system is the long-lasting effect it had on his overall personality in the Kenneth Branagh Hercule Poirot movies Because Katherine died in an accident on her way to see Poirot in the hospital, he blames himself for her death. That guilt, combined with the loss of his friend Bouc in Death on the Nile, convinces Poirot that everyone he loves dies. His mustache has returned by the time the events of A Haunting In Venice occur, and with it, Poirot’s personal isolation is a direct result of the terrible loss of his one true love.