The Murder on the Orient Express

Istanbul is the last stop on the Orient Express or Eastern Express, which had its first expedition in 1883 from Paris. Between the years of 1883 and 1977, the train expeditions, which were initiated for Europeans to recognize the Eastern civilization and to be informed about its authentic values, especially attracted the attention of authors, artists and the cinema industry.

The British loved to come to İstanbul on the Orient Express, and when they arrived, they often stayed at Pera Palas Hotel. Agatha Christie, the most famous author of detective, crime and murder novels in the history of world literature, rode the Orient Express and stayed at the Pera Palas Hotel in İstanbul, inspiring her to write the novel Murder on the Orient Express. According to some rumors, she stayed at the mansion of Misbah Muhayyeş, the owner of the Pera Palas Hotel, in Yeniköy, and wrote the novel there. The mansion belongs to the Sabancı family today.

The Murder on the Orient Express
Pera Palace Hotel

The Orient Express is often recognized because of the film Murder on the Orient Express, which was released in its most recent version in November 2017. After many years, the immortal work still has a huge fan following.

The Novel

The Orient Express picks up the passengers, comes to İstanbul, and then returns to Paris. The beginning of the novel is in İstanbul. After the train takes off from İstanbul, a murder was committed on the Express. One of the American passengers, who came to visit the Orient, was stabbed to death. The administrative authority of the train, Mr. Bouc, is shaken by the murder and wants it to be solved.

The train broke down in the town of Vinkovci, near Croatia. Mr. Bouc tries to turn this situation into an opportunity to look into the murder, and he wants help from the Belgian detective Poirot, who is traveling on the train. The Belgian detective gladly accepts this offer and starts to investigate the murder by interviewing the passengers on the train with full authorization. Agatha Christie shows her mastership through strong dialogues that arise during the search for the criminal. The Detective Hercule Poirot gets help from the Greek Doctor Konstantin and Mr. Bouc, the administrative authority of the train, and the end result of this murder investigation will shake you deeply.

The Murder on the Orient Express
The Murder on the Orient Express Poster

The Films

The immortal work “Murder on the Orient Express” was written by Agatha Christie in 1933, and was first transferred to the cinema in 1974. The film was directed by Sidney Lumet and the character “Hercule Poirot” was portrayed by Albert Finney. Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Martin Balsam, and Ingrid Bergman were featured as well. The film is one of the most watched detective films of all time and has an IMDB score of 7.3.

The second shooting of the film was made after 43 years in November 2017, and this version of “Murder on the Orient Express” was transferred to the cinema under the direction of Kenneth Branagh. The cast of the film is rather rich and includes Oscar winning actresses Penelope Cruz and Judi Dench and master performers Willem Dafoe, Kenneth Branagh, and Michelle Pfeiffer. When compared with the first film, it seems that some elements of this film are deficient. However, the visual quality has reached a much higher level in the 2017 film.

Need to know about the murder on Orient Express

Agatha Christie was inspired by a real incident while she was writing the novel. The train often broke down and remained stranded in snow. In 1929, the Orient Express had been stuck in a storm near Çerkezköy and could not move for six days. When Agatha Christie came to İstanbul, she experienced a similar incident.

The Murder on the Orient Express Poster
The Murder on the Orient Express 1974

A ransom issue inspired the book. But strangely, one year after the book was published, Maria Farcasanu was pushed out of the train by Karl Strasser, and she fell on the tracks and died. Also, a mysterious incident took place on the Orient Express in 1950. Simone Carpe was lost during the train ride and was never heard from again. Actually, it was that incident that inspired the James Bond film “From Russia With Love” by Fleming in 1950.

For the 2017 film, Kenneth Branagh used a 65 millimeter camera, which he used to shoot “Hamlet” in 1996.

Hercule Poirot, the immortal detective of Agatha Christie, has been portrayed by many different actors, including Albert Finney in 1974, Peter Ustinov in 1978, Alfred Molino in 2001, David Suchet in 2010, and Kenneth Branagh in 2017.

Our recommendation is that you should first watch the 1974 film, and then you should watch the 2017 version.