I can’t recall ever reading an Agatha Christie book in grade school. There were a few Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew’s, and a handful of Shakespeare’s and Homer as well. Maybe Agatha’s books were too thick for me. Ha-ha-ha! But of all the detective books I read, my favorites were always Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
And I think that’s where the difference lies.
If you saw the Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law (both amazing actors, by the way!), you’d see them as straightforward, detective work, much like Murder, She Wrote. Although, Murder, She Wrote was less bloody and violent, more like detective stories for old maids.
Here, in the Murder in the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh, both the lead and the director, made the movie look more human by looking into the why’s -- the motives of the murderer or murderers (you have to watch the movie to find out!) as to why he/she/they did what he/she/they did!
I’d just assume you haven’t read the book, or read the synopsis of the movie and novel, so I won’t give out spoilers here.
There were three reasons why I wanted to watch it. First, it’s an all-star cast! I would have watched if only for Judi Dench! But there’s Michelle Pfeiffer! Kenneth Branagh! Penélope Cruz! Johnny Depp! Willem Dafoe!
Second, it’s a period movie about a train that travels through the snowy valleys and mountains of Europe! I just didn’t want to feel like a moviegoer, I also wanted to be a tourist!
Third, my godmother told me she’s been on the Orient Express with her husband. Of course, she was talking about the late 20th century ‘modified route’ of the Orient Express. After she retired, they both decided to travel and they got on Orient Express! She told me it was pricey! And no murder during their trip!
Traveling through time and through exotic places is always fascinating, and this movie gave me a glimpse of what happened on a luxurious train ride from Istanbul to Europe during those days. Passengers, who were initially strangers, actually spoke to each other during the ride, and not just lost themselves in their smartphones and social media accounts posting narcissistic photos of themselves.
People read books, conversed with each other, exchanged ideas, and eventually got to learn about each other. Of course, an occasional murder made the train ride more interesting, too!
Watching the film didn’t feel like it was a mystery waiting to be solved. It was a train ride that I didn’t want to end. The CGI sceneries showing the exotic landscape over which the train passed, the Wailing Wall and the bakery scenes, where I could almost smell the newly baked Turkish bread, and the snowy mountain passes that made me realize it’s just as freezing outside the cinema because it’s winter - all made me forget that there was a murder to be solved! I got lost in the journey like a real tourist!
And if there was a picturesque train ride, there was also drama on how the murder was solved. One victim, one detective, 13 suspects and one dramatic scene in a tunnel to expose the culprit, or culprits!
Agatha Christie would have been proud! This was more than just a murder. It was a luxurious train ride, fabulous wine and desserts, and then murder to cap it off!
Yes, I’d also like you to watch it. But lucky me, my cinema ticket was actually discounted since it was Culture Day yesterday in Korea, when cinema tickets are discounted for films showing from 5PM to 9PM every last Wednesday of the month!
When the film ends, please don’t hurry to leave your seat. Stay for the closing credits and listen to the song. Its melody is sad, and the lyrics even sadder! I immediately recognized the voice; it’s Michelle Pfeiffer’s! She was nominated for an Oscar Best Actress her singing role in the Fabulous Baker Boys, remember? That lady can act and sing!
You have to watch the movie to get the essence of the song. And when I got home, I looked it up in Youtube and read the lyrics, and realized it’s one of the saddest movie songs ever! And I think it will win an Oscar for its composer, Patrick Doyle, and because it will be nominated, I’m so looking forward to watching Michelle Pfeiffer perform that song at the Oscars 2018!
The song is Never Forget. Haunting, slow, sad. Its lyrics will connect you to the movie as if each of the character sings Never Forget after such tragedy of losing a loved one. Am I giving away too much?
I hope you can tell me how you’d find the movie and the song.
And don’t forget to bring tissues!
Here's the song: