Mys­tery (and his­tory) on the Ori­ent Ex­press

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

With a new film of the Poirot clas­sic about to be re­leased, Adrian Bridge em­barks on the world’s most iconic rail jour­ney

‘Will there be a mur­der dur­ing the jour­ney? I can’t make any guar­an­tees. After all, we are fa­mous for that.” Michele Rocca, the train man­ager, had a mis­chievous grin on his face as he played with the prospect of some se­ri­ous skul­dug­gery on board the train that more than any other con­veys the magic, the mys­tique, the ro­mance and, yes, the in­trigue of travel – the Ori­ent Ex­press, known to­day as the Venice Sim­plon-Ori­ent-Ex­press.

What an ex­tra­or­di­nary story – and what an ex­tra­or­di­nary train.

More than 80 years after the pub­li­ca­tion of Agatha Christie’s Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press, the story con­tin­ues to ex­er­cise an un­be­liev­able hold on the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion. So much so that de­spite the fact there have al­ready been sev­eral film ver­sions of the story (see over­leaf), this Novem­ber will see the re­lease of an­other star-stud­ded take on the story, an all-singing, all-danc­ing re­work­ing di­rected by Ken­neth Branagh, and star­ring, in ad­di­tion to Branagh him­self as su­per sleuth de­tec­tive Her­cule Poirot, Dame Judi Dench, Pené­lope Cruz, Johnny Depp and Derek Ja­cobi.

In Christie’s book, the mur­der takes place after the train gets stuck in a snow drift some­where north of Bel­grade, a key stop­ping point on what was the Ori­ent Ex­press route be­tween Paris and Is­tan­bul that was started in 1883.

The rout­ing fell on hard times after the war and by the late Seven­ties ser­vices to Is­tan­bul stopped al­to­gether. But for trav­ellers keen to have an inkling of what it might

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