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First trailer for Murder on the Orient Express + early scenes & talent Q&A

06.01.2017

The new trailer for MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS has come roaring in and it's a pleasant mix of mystery and character in a setting that harkens back to the classical detective tales that made author Agatha Christie a household name. Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh the film features a laundry list of strong talent, including Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Sergei Polunin. Feeling very much like CLUE on a train (for those not familiar with the novel or 1974 film), MURDER looks to be an entertaining jaunt for moviegoers looking for something a bit different than the more explosive fare that's on the way this fall.

While in London last month, I had the opportunity to view some additional scenes from the film, as well as take part in a Q&A with Branagh and the cast. Below are the highlights from that presentation:

"I hope the heart of the piece comes out in the mystery." - Branagh on his vision for Orient Express.

ORIENT EXPRESS Scenes shown and reaction:

We saw a number of compelling scenes from the film and the two standouts for me were character and setting. This is definitely told in a more straightforward way, much like a stage play (on wheels) with every actor absolutely hamming it up in the best possible way. We got a peek at the idiosyncracies of each character (along with their "role") as they congregated in the dining car, each of them revealing small tidbits, be it in manner, speech, exposition or simply by their overall demeanor. Issues like race and gender are brought up, as blatant displays of prejudice were common (or at least, commonly accepted) in these times.

We saw a brief exchange between Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer in a traincar hallway with an attraction being evident, but also an animosity. After Depp is insulted by Pfeiffer, he retreats to his car with Branagh's Poirot witnessing the exchange. Without spoiling the outcome, the train awakens to a murder of one of the passengers and the train is suddenly stopped due to an avalanche that causes it to be dug out and stalled. Poirot begins his investigation immediately and we see him interrogate each and every character, each of them embodying the varied personna's of their characters with an almost overexaggerated style; but it works, much like a stage play with a more lively set, and you can tell that everyone in this cast is loving being a part of this film.

Another scene is at night and takes place after the murder, with all passengers crowded back into the dining car and fighting over whether or not they should return to their cabins or stay in the dining car in order to keep an eye on one another. One thing that left a lasting impression on me was that I had no idea who the killer was (and I haven't seen the old film in decades, nor have I read the book), yet ALL of them felt like a perfect suspect. That's not easy to build and it immediately reminded me of 1985's CLUE; lively, animated, a bit twisted and shrouded in a mystery.

Overall, the presentation left me feeling very optimistic about the film, which is sure to offer some welcome variation in the fall schedule, especially for those looking for something more classical, lively and ripe with compelling characters instead of the usual heavy dramatic fare and spectacle entertainment that fills theaters during the winter months.

After the presentation, the cast, along with Branagh took the stage for a Q & A on the film and talked about the vision for the film, the characters and the technical work in bringing it all to life.

Branagh on what inspired him to take on the project:

"The part that made the back of the hair on my neck stand up was the prospect of a group of people like this [the cast] in it. I'm addicted to the work of great storytellers, so when you come back to a tale like Agatha Christie's you've got a tremendous piece of entertaiment, but you also have something that touches, I think, quite deeply on loss and grief and revenge; many of these characters have emotional secrets, so the chance to combine a sort of vicarious ride in the golden age of travel on a great thing, the Orient Express, and then people it with the characters embodied by these actors who can bring the kind of detail and that emotional depth to it, that's what was exciting to me, was exciting about the process, to put all these people together in that situation and then peel the layers of the mystery, but also peel the layers of the humanity. That's what we were trying to do."

Josh Gad on the technical aspect of the real train and set train used with projected imagery that made it seem like it was moving and how it affected their performances:

"The detail that the prodcuction team brought to this production is unreal. I mean, it is exquisite. It is so spot on. And, for us, I think that that intimacy, it really lends itself to Ken's vision, which is everybody's got a secret. Everybody's got their story, right? And everybody is what they appear to be, but there's more to them. And, when you're confined in a space it does something to you. It creates this sense of unease. Even if you have nothing to hide there's a sense of who's responsible? Which one of us is the killer? That sense of mystery, that sense of 'are we on the train with a murderer?' it gives you that sensation."

Branagh on Detective Poirot's epic moustache:

"[Christie] describes it in the books as 'immense.' So, that's what we decided to do. The moustache is at one and the same time a protection and a provocation. He can hide behind it, but also when people ridicule it or mock it or sneer at it or dismiss him, they underestimate him and therefore his job as a detective becomes simpler. In fact, part of Poirot's style is an unashamed delight in that piece of his own personal vanity. But, it turns out, along with his accent and his funny little ways, his little originalities, to be something that, as he says, 'puts people off guard'. They dismiss him and then he can analyze their truth that much more swiftly."

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS arrives in theaters on November 10th, 2017.

Source: JoBlo.com

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