“It was five o'clock on a winter's morning in Syria. Alongside the platform at Aleppo stood the train grandly designated in railway guides as the Taurus Express. It consisted of a kitchen and dining-car, a sleeping-car and two local coaches…”
So began Agatha Christie’s iconic 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express, and, in those immortal lines, it conjured up a tale of murder, intrigue, deception, and, above all else, luxury train travel.
And it’s safe to say that the first trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s hugely anticipated 2017 film adaptation does not disappoint.
Just as the book describes, we open on a snowy scene: a steam train’s lamplights gleam brightly through the gloom of a dark wintry morning, and, gathered alongside the vehicle, a number of police officers chat animatedly with a guard.
Something has happened aboard this train, but what?
Well, murder, obviously (it’s a Christie novel, so murder is and always will be the answer) and it’s up to Hercule Poirot (Branagh) to find out who did the dark deed.
And he certainly has a lot of people to investigate. Sitting aboard the train, and shooting suitably suspicious glances at everyone around them, awaits Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley), Princess Natalia Dragomiroff (Judi Dench), Pilar Estravados (Penélope Cruz), Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), and Gerhard Hardman (Willem Dafoe), Hildegaarde Schmidt (Olivia Colman), Mrs Caroline Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr), M. Bouc (Tom Bateman), Biniamino Marquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Pierre Michel (Marwan Kenzari), Masterman (Derek Jacobi), Countess Elena Andrenyi (Lucy Boynton) and Count Rudolph Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin).
Poirot must speak with each and every single one of this exhaustive list of characters in a bid to work out who is behind a fatal stabbing aboard the famous luxury locomotive.
But, with the passengers trapped in a snowdrift and a murderer running amok, it seems as if time is not on his side…
Branagh, who directs and stars in the sumptuous adaptation, most recently directed Disney's 2015 live-action version of Cinderella, starring Lily James.
Speaking about the project with Variety, the Shakespearean legend says: “Christie’s Murder is mysterious, compelling, and unsettling.
“I’m honoured to have this fantastic group of actors bring these dark materials to life for a new audience.”
All aboard, then.
Murder on the Orient Express hits UK cinemas 3 November.