Kenneth Branagh To Recreate Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder On The Orient Express’

Kenneth Branagh is planning to do with Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express what he did with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein those many years ago and only Branagh himself can say whether or not he’s still up to the task. Branagh has cast himself in the leading role of Hercule Poirot in the Agatha Christie tale, which Branagh will also direct.

Kenneth Branagh Will Take On Agatha Christie’s Most Famous Character

Murder on the Orient Express, Hercule Poirot
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot takes on a train full of suspects. Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Fox has announced plans to move forward with a new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, tapping Kenneth Branagh to direct the film, as well as promising himself the leading role of Hercule Poirot.

To say that Hercule Poirot is one of Christie’s most famous characters would be to downplay the importance of the beloved detective in Christie’s works. As The Hollywood Reporter has reported, the Murder on the Orient Express detective has appeared in 33 novels, a play (Black Coffee), and over 50 short stories.

In Murder on the Orient Express, Poirot finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the murder of a man that the detective had previously met and to whom he had taken an immediate disliking.

“I do not like your face, Mr. Ratchett,” says the Murder on the Orient Express detective.

Yet, at the behest of Orient Express director, Poirot agrees to investigate the murder en route and soon discovers that Ratchett was actually a criminal by the name of Cassetti. Once Poirot made this discovery, it lead him to conclude that nearly everyone aboard the Orient Express had a motive to murder Cassetti, who had escaped justice in the United States.

The investigation continues with Poirot desperately trying to narrow down that list of possible suspects, but to no avail. By the end of Murder on the Orient Express, the detective learned that twelve of the passengers had a hand in the murder of Cassetti, the same number of people to sit on a jury in an American criminal trial.

Kenneth Branagh Is In Good Company As The Murder On The Orient Express Detective

David Suchet, Hercule Poirot
David Suchet has been the Agatha Christie detective for over 20 years. Image courtesy of PBS.

There’s no doubt that Branagh is starting out with a powerful first step, considering the heavy hitters backing him on the new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. After all, along with Branagh, Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Alien), Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sherlock Holmes), and Mark Gordon (Criminal Minds, Source Code) are also listed as producers on Murder on the Orient Express.

Business Standard reports that Micheal Green (Blade Runner 2) is writing the script for Murder on the Orient Express.

The previous 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express, starred Albert Finney as the famous detective as well as casting a who’s-who of Hollywood A-listers, such as Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman. The 1974 adaptation was nominated for eight Oscar awards with Ingrid Bergman taking the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Additionally, David Suchet has spent 20 years making the Agatha Christie character of Hercule Poirot his own and he has largely succeeded.

“People ask me if I tried to make my Poirot popular. I didn’t. All I did was to start to read Agatha Christie’s novels. I wanted to be the Poirot that she would be proud of,” David Suchet said. “So out went the funny costume designs and the huge moustaches. And in went everything that she had written. The morning suits. The little gifts of vases of flowers. The perfect moustache.”

Kenneth Branagh will have his work cut out for him and as producer, director, and actor, he may have to worry more about his many hats than his moustache. If anyone can pull it off, it seems Branagh has the ambition and experience to deliver a powerful performance and an adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express that even Agatha Christie herself would have loved.

[Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack – WPA Pool /Getty Images]