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“It was a murder, but not a crime”

A review of the movie Murder on the Oriental Express

Mariyam Siddiqui, Staffer

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Among the greatest detectives ever written, lies Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Poirot is one of Christie’s most famous characters, featuring in 33 novels, one play, and more than 50 short stories. The character has been transformed onto the TV screen several times, most recently in the form of Sir Kenneth Branagh in the movie The Murder on the Orient Express.

While the movie is slow in the beginning, it picks up speed when the murder actually happens. It takes the watcher on a journey as the case begins to unravel and, like all murder mysteries, keeps the suspense going until the murderer is revealed.

What is truly magnificent about the film is the cinematography. While the majority of the film is set on the Orient Express, the film still manages to capture beautiful scenery and makes use of the small set. The cold, winter scenes and the position of the horizon and the train itself are transformed into beautiful works of art. If this movie doesn’t win an Oscar for best cinematography, it would be very surprising.

The movie pulled in a large cast of well known actors and actresses. Johnny Depp plays Mr. Samuel Ratchett, a hardened American man who attempts to hire Poirot as he believes his life’s in danger. Poirot, however, refuses. Daisy Ridley, known for her role as Rei in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, plays Mary Debenham, an governess to two children in Baghdad. Josh Gad, known for his role as Olaf in Frozen and as Lefou in Beauty and the Beast, plays Hector MacQueen, the personal assistant of Ratchett. Branagh, who also is the director of the film, creates an elevated production with these well-accomplished actors and actresses.

One thing seen throughout the film is its adherence to racism. While the passengers attempt to pin the blame on Dr. Arbuthnot, a black doctor, and Biniamino Marquez, an Italian, due to their respective races and heritage. Poirot’s blatant disregard for the stereotypes surrounding these characters allows him to solve the case based off of clues rather than prejudice. The movie also shows an interracial couple between Arbuthnot and Debenham. Set around the 1930s where there was still racial tension in America, their relationship is one shared behind closed doors.

The movie ends with a reference to another of Christie’s books, Blood on the Nile, and the promise of a sequel. While no deal is currently in place, Branagh is expected to return as director and as Poirot and screenwriter Michael Green, who worked on Murder on the Orient Express, Logan, and Blade Runner 2049, is set to return to write the script.

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