Murder on the Orient Express: Film Review

Having seen the trailers showing Poirot striding over the top of the train, and a number of appearances of a revolver, I had no idea what to expect. Somehow, I have always found Peter Ustinov more believable than Albert Finney, despite the latter being more physically like Poirot i.e. more physically like David Suchet’s definitive portrayal, so maybe Kenneth Branagh would be able to pull it off?

I am pleased to be able to say that he did, and I very much enjoyed the film. Branagh managed to put his own stamp on the role, and while it wasn’t totally faithful to the characterisation in the books, it only jarred occasionally.

Like the David Suchet version, it made more of Poirot’s moral dilemma than I recall being present in the book – I will revisit this theme when I re-read it next year.

The interviews with the suspects were quite short, and so perhaps the film should have been longer, or the introductory scenes in Jerusalem shorter, although they were perhaps necessary to introduce some of Poirot’s methods and eccentricities to those unfamiliar with the character, but the majority of the key clues and discoveries were included, except that BIG SPOILER (highlight blank space to read) the significance of the number twelve and the murderers acting as jury, judge, and executioner was not highlighted, which I feel is a key part of the whole story.

If you fancy a trip to the cinema, it will definitely be better than anything else I have seen advertised recently.

Please let me know what you make of it, and how it compares to other adaptations.

Name the book cover answers

From left to right, then top to bottom, the images were taken from covers for:

  1. A Murder is Announced
  2. Cards on the Table
  3. Peril at End House
  4. Cat Among the Pigeons
  5. Postern of Fate
  6. Death on the Nile
  7. After the Funeral
  8. Death in the Clouds
  9. Elephants Can Remember
  10. The Big Four

So congratulations to Alan, with his identification of 8 – although to be fair they are all on his bookshelf.

I plan to see Murder on the Orient Express in the next couple of weeks, so a review may be forthcoming.