A Peek at the New Orient Express

The first trailer to Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express (2017) is out, making me reconsider the project.

It was just a month ago that I wrote about how tired and skeptical I am of uncalled-for remakes of film classics in general, and of the coming re-adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express in particular. Now the first official trailer is out, and what can I say? I am sold already.

I don’t know exactly why: Is it seeing the stellar ensemble cast in action (though not really in action) together for the first time? Is it the stylish, nostalgic setting? Or is it that awesome, slow, tension-building point-of-view shot the trailer uses for a first introduction of the suspects? Maybe it’s all of these reasons together, or maybe it is simply the fact that for once, this is a teaser worth its name, giving away almost nothing—rather than the entire movie: Contrary to what the studios and their marketing departments seem to think, I want a trailer to give me a sense of the film’s feel, and to convince me that there is an interesting experience to be had (be it for the sake of the plot, for the art of the directing, or whatever). Not more than that. And that’s precisely what this first glance at Murder on the Orient Express does.

Do I know the plot? Of course. Do I care? Not a bit.

I am really intrigued now to see how Kenneth Branagh as director tackles the different challenges that this adaptation comes with: whether and how he finds his own way of creating a dynamic, thrilling cinematic experience out of this well-known story in its super-static setting. And, of course, I can’t wait to see Branagh, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, and the entire cast bring Christie’s characters to life.

Director and lead actor Kenneth Branagh. Photo credit: see below.

In short: Yes, Hollywood’s obsession with remakes is often tiring. But sometimes, a remake can actually add a new touch to an old plot (for example in the case of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu [1979]). So I really hope that Branagh’s film will be one of those few successful remakes, rather than the cash grab I originally suspected it to be. In that case, he would absolutely have my blessing to make as many Poirot films as he likes. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here: For now, I will be happy to book a seat on the Orient Express.

Murder on the Orient Express (UK/US 2017) is set to be released on November 10, 2017 (US). Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Written by Michael Green. Cinematography: Haris Zambarloukos. Starring Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp.

Photo credit: “Kenneth Branagh” by Melinda Seckington, licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

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