Magazine article Variety

Putting ‘Orient Express’ on Track

Magazine article Variety

Putting ‘Orient Express’ on Track

Article excerpt

IN THE 1974 VERSION of "Murder on the Orient Express," adapted from the classic Agatha Christie crime novel, a plethora of big Hollywood names came aboard, including director Sidney Lumet and stars Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and Sean Connery.

The same can be said for this year's version, set for release by 20th Century Fox on Nov. 10. Kenneth Branagh directed, and the stars include Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Penélope Cruz.

To surround the top-shelf actors, BAFTAwinning production designer Jim Clay ("Children of Men," "Great Expectations") gave the story a look to match the grand history of the railroad and Christie's beloved book.

Clay built the Orient Express train from the ground up. The trick was to make it beautiful and luxurious yet still camera-friendly. The crew built one set of train carriages for exteriors and interiors at Longcross Studios in London, and another set only for interiors. The carriages were made 12 inches wider than normal train cars, and floating walls and roofs were installed to facilitate the movement of the crew.

The camera team, led by Haris Zambarloukos, shot on large Panavision cameras with sizable lens boxes and 65mm Kodak film. "That's a lot to carry up and down the corridors," says Clay. …

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