The episode The Big Four begins with Poirot’s “funeral,” then flashes back four weeks to the chess tournament arranged by Abe Ryland, an advocate of the Peace Party. The room in which the guests are congregated– location: Syon House, Brentford– is full of copies of famous ancient statuary, including the Apollo Belvedere (located at the opposite end of the room from the chess table). You may have seen these in other films shot at this location.
There are 4 full-sized statues in the room (the Great Hall of Syon House) and the one that caught my attention was the one on the opposite side of the chess set, where the main action of the event is centered. We begin to get a good look at it when Poirot and Japp are having their little conversation about Madame Olivier.
It is a copy of The Dying Gaul.
In the ancient world, Gaul was the region of western Europe encompassing France, Belgium, and the surrounding area. The Gauls spread across Europe, with pockets reaching as far as Turkey (e.g. the Galatians). Of course, we still use the word “Gallic” to describe anything characteristically French, as in: “Poirot bowed with Gallic politeness.”
But what’s really amusant about The Dying Gaul and its place in this story is… did you know… The Dying Gaul has one of the most famous MOUSTACHES in all of sculpture? In fact, the moustache is one of the reasons that he is usually assumed to be a Gaul in the first place.
An interesting coincidence, n’est-ce pas? Beyond the fact that a man dies at that chess table… isn’t cutting from Poirot’s funeral to a room that prominently featured The Dying Gaul be a rather appropriate bit of foreshadowing?
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