The 1974 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express was flawed, will the 2017 adaptation be better?

Published: October 7, 2017
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Considered by many as one of the most ingeniously crafted stories ever published, Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express has stood the test of time (it was published in 1934) and a handful of cinematic iterations to retain its place in the pantheon of great whodunits’.

Most who haven’t read the book may be familiar with filmmaker Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of the classic mystery which was released in 1974.

In Hollywood though, no film is old or important enough to be remade or as I like to call it, ‘reheated’ and this time around veteran Shakespeare director, Kenneth Branagh, is taking a stab at adapting the famous novel.

The story is fairly simple. Thirteen passengers travelling across Europe on the Orient Express find themselves front and centre of a murder mystery after one of the passengers is mysteriously murdered. Everyone is a suspect and the self-proclaimed greatest detective in the world, Hercule Poirot, also played by Branagh, is ready to solve the case.

The trailer doesn’t do much, other than efficiently set-up the story which is also what it is supposed to do. It gives us an introduction to the eccentric Poirot as he walks through the train cabin examining the 13 passengers one by one, mentally referring to them by their designations and making clear his intentions of catching the killer.

The trailer ends with Imagine Dragons‘Believer’ playing in the background, which seems like a bit of an odd music choice, but according to the studio, gives an important hint regarding the story.

I’m someone who isn’t particularly fond of Hollywood’s continuing fetish with remaking old films. But in the case of Murder on the Orient Express, it could actually benefit from a polished redo simply because of how interesting and fun the entire story is. Lumet’s 1974 adaptation is enjoyable for what it is, but it is also heavily flawed and not necessarily a sacred property like most films being remade these days

Perhaps it is worth mentioning that the cast is particularly star-studded. Apart from Banagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfieffer, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman and Judi Dench are all part of the cast.

I also feel with a director such as Branagh at the helm, who truly respects the source material and has already directed two immensely successful and faithful adaptations of Hamlet and Henry V, there’s a good chance that this film will be very good.

Murder on the Orient Express hits screens November 10th.

All photos: IMDb

Khalid Rafi

Khalid Rafi

The author is an aspiring writer and a passionate lover and supporter of Pakistan Cricket. He blops at The Blazing Reel. (www.theblazingreel.wordpress.com) and tweets as @TheKhalidRafi

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Asif Butt

    I always keep an eye out for such articles at Express Tribune (cant all the time though).
    Another useless article written by amateurish young reviewers wannabes.
    Either it was based on nepotism to allow the author this opportunity or it was simply his turn for which he must have waited so faithfully and patiently.

    And in case the author is wondering what exactly I found about this article which led me to write such seemingly pessimistic comments , well dear Mr. Author your article has absolutely NOTHING to offer simply because its based on your desire to declare the older version as flawed (that too without reasoning).
    Just go to IMDB , find that old movie and write your comment over there regarding its flaws.
    Recommend

  • Paul

    Interested in what you think the flaws in the older version were . Having read the book, I thought Lumet and co did a good job of tightening the plot. If there are flaws in the film, it is due to the static nature of Christie’s format – a crime occurs, witnesses questioned extensively, solution revealed.

    Will be interesting to see how the new film can avoid this flaw without straying too far from the original source. The 1974 version handled the emotional content very well and played up the tragic aspects. It is definitely a classic of the genre. It also packed more star power for the time than this version. Every actor was a name.​Recommend