The career of Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot has been extensively covered onscreen, from Sidney Lumet’s star-studded 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express to PBS’ long-running Hercule Poirot, with David Suchet. So, what is director Kenneth Branagh — and a cast that includes Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, and a Poirot-playing Branagh, among others — bringing that’s fresh to his new film version of Murder on the Orient Express (out Nov. 10)?
“One of my favorite films of Martin Scorsese — a man I revere — is Age of Innocence,” says Branagh. “One of the things I thought was just so captivating was the way I was entirely transported to nineteenth-century New York. I could taste and smell [everything]. And I wanted to do that with this. I wanted to bring people onto the train, to celebrate a sort of expertise, and craftsmanship, in everything, whether it’s a wooden panel or the way something is served.”
Something else Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green are adding to the mix? Terror!
“I think what I found in the book again, and in the screenplay, was that it unleashed something very primal, very kind of grisly,” says Branagh. “I realized that we could find a way to have the fun of Agatha Christie, but have the absolutely deadly intention behind it, and the danger. I think we’re making a scarier film than people might imagine. We’re not trying to turn it into something it isn’t, but I think we’re away from the drawing room mystery, and we’re into something [else]. Because the book is also a dark psychological revenge drama.”
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The film’s first trailer, released Thursday, introduces Branagh’s Poirot and the star-studded ensemble of strangers aboard the titular train.
“If there was a murder, then there was a murderer,” Poirot tells them. “The murderer is with us — and every one of you is a suspect.”
Watch the trailer for Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express above.