In 1928, a recently divorced writer named Agatha Christie embarked on a solo trip around the world. On the advice of some fellow travellers, she canceled her planned voyage to the West Indies and instead embarked on a trip to the Middle East. She booked a ticket on the Orient Express to take her to Istanbul.
The famed mystery queen is said to have traveled on the train, now called the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, dozens of times. Having been a passenger alongside the writer's heirs and actor Josh Gad last month, I can assure you that there's nothing sinister about the ride, where your biggest problem is a lack of showers and an espresso machine, and deciding which ballgown to wear to the black-tie dinner.
But Christie saw plenty of possibility. Inspired by a real-life snowbound journey and the major headlines of the day, she set to writing one of the most famous thrillers of the 20th century: Murder on the Orient Express, published in 1934.
Now that story is once again coming to the big screen, and the first trailer (watch below) was released this morning. Due this November, Kenneth Branagh (who cast himself as ridiculously moustached Belgian detective Hercule Poirot) has directed an all-star cast that includes Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman, and Johnny Depp as passengers stuck on the train in the middle of a blizzard. A body is found, and the accusations fly.
At a Fox panel last month, costar Colman jokingly compared the passengers' defensive reactions to the murder to having a whoopee cushion go off in a dorm room; everyone turns red, whether they're the culprit or not.
Branagh, meanwhile, described the story as one of "loss, grief, and revenge," with the "claustrophobic, confined environment" of the train contributing to the sense of danger and suspicion.
Who died? Who did it? It's time to play detective.