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First Look: Murder on the Orient Express

All aboard! Agatha Christie’s classic detective novel is back on the big screen once again. And in a big way…

Murder on the Orient Express isn’t just one of crime writer Agatha Christie’s most famous and popular novels – it’s also one of the most widely-read pieces of crime fiction ever published. An almost perfect whodunit, this train carriage-set mystery sees the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot attempting to solve what appears to be ‘the perfect crime’.

Who committed a brutal murder aboard the lavish Orient Express while it was briefly stuck in the Alps during an avalanche? The suspects are many and the only thing standing in the culprit’s way is the impeccably-dressed and impressively-moustached Monsieur Poirot.

Arguably as famous as the Agatha Christie book is the 1974 film version. An ensemble effort from revered director Sidney Lumet, it stars Albert Finney in the lead, ably supported by a cast of well-known faces including Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Richard Widmark, Sean Connery, Jacqueline Bisset, Sir John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave and Michael York. It was a hit with critics, the Academy and audiences alike.

But if the novel, 70s version or various TV adaptations still aren’t enough for you, you’re in luck. Thespian director Sir Kenneth Branagh has made his own version, which is rumbling down the tracks ever closer towards us, due to arrive in early November. His is a truly ensemble piece too, starring such names as Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Olivia Colman, Sir Derek Jacobi and Michelle Pfeiffer. And as Poirot? Sir Kenny himself. Only he’s really upped the ante on the ‘tache front…

‘My name is Hercule Poirot and I’m probably the greatest detective in the world.’ That’s how the trailer introduces us to Agatha Christie’s brilliant but less-than-modest sleuth. His job is to work out which of the thirteen strangers on the train slaloming through Europe is responsible for the savage slaying. The Liège-born investigator and his gravity-defying whiskers must unravel the mystery before the perpetrator strikes again.

The story may be some 83 years old now, but it still holds up on the page. So, with minimal finessing and tweaking from Branagh and his team, there’s no real reason to panic that it might feel jaded or dated on the big screen. Early word is that while the plot remains fairly loyal, changes have been made to the original – so there could be surprises to even the most ardent of Christie fan.

The cramped sleeper cars, narrow corridors and claustrophobic dining carriages should give an almost play-like feeling to things. Interspersed with some high-octane action scenes and what looks from the trailers to be some pretty awe-inspiring scenery and cinematography, we’ve got high hopes for this film adaptation.

For anyone interested in booking a first class seat on board, Murder on the Orient Express is due to pull into cinemas on the 3rd of November. We can’t wait!

Seen Murder on the Orient Express already? Check out our review of the film here.

Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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