Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1974|
|Running Time||122:13 (Case: 127)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (66:09)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Sidney Lumet|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|RPI||$36.95||Music||Richard Rodney Bennett|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie's two most famous detectives, and he has been portrayed by a variety of actors. I really like David Suchet's interpretation in the TV movies, because I think it is perhaps the most true to the original stories, but Murder on the Orient Express has Albert Finney, who does a marvellous job. Evil Under the Sun has Peter Ustinov, who does an excellent job of capturing many of Poirot's mannerisms, but he is the wrong size, shape, and hair colour.
Both movies have a star-studded cast - a common term, but one very applicable. Have you ever noticed the distinction of whether an actor's name appears before or after the title of the movie in the opening credits? Appearing before the title is part of being a star. In this movie, there are fourteen names before the title of the movie!
Albert Finney is clearly having a ball, and Wendy Hiller is playing her part with a touch of the Lady Bracknell's. Vanessa Redgrave has a sparkle in her eye, too. Michael York looks a little out of his depth, which is understandable - he's a lot younger, and not as good an actor as most of the cast. I think Wendy Hiller gets one of the best lines: "You never smile." "My doctor has advised against it.".
The plot, as is typical for a good Christie, is complex. I do not wish to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, so I won't talk about it. Suffice it to say that all the clues are presented, but you could easily wear out your "little grey cells" trying to untwist it. Much easier to sit back and wait for the revelations when Poirot gathers all the suspects for the big finish.
If you like Agatha Christie, then let me recommend this film - this is one of the best efforts made at translating one of her books to the big screen.
The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. This is not close enough to the original aspect ratio, which was 2.35:1, but it looks nice on a widescreen display. I would really have preferred to see this movie in the original aspect ratio.
The picture is a little soft almost all of the way through. There are a few moments of clarity, but they are few indeed. Shadow detail is excellent, and there's no low level noise to see. One of the benefits of the softer image is that it hides aliasing that might otherwise have jumped out at us.
The colour is good. Because the movie is set in 1935, clothes are somewhat muted in colour, but what colours we do see are well-saturated.
There are numerous tiny film artefacts, which is perfectly understandable in a movie that is 27 years old. None of them are troublesome. Aliasing is nearly invisible, aided by the softness of the image. I saw no MPEG artefacts. There's a touch of telecine wobble in the opening credits, revealed by the choice of font for the credits (I can never remember if that style is Art Nouveau or Art Deco - it's one or the other).
Much of the investigation takes place on a train stopped by a snow drift, so there is a lot of light glaring in the windows from the snow. This makes the lighting a little unusual, and causes a sheet of paper on a table in front of Poirot to appear almost glowing. On a couple of occasions the light shining off the paper shows in the bottom of the shot, and looks like a flaw in the film - it's not.
The disc is single sided and dual-layered (RSDL-formatted), with the layer change at 66:09. There's a visible pause in the middle of the scene, but it is not bad.
Dialogue is clear and readily understood, without any errors in audio sync.
The score by Richard Rodney Bennett is fine - it supports the story without intruding.
The soundtrack is not surround-encoded - it is a straight mono mix. As such, the surrounds and subwoofer were not called upon. I didn't really miss them - this movie is more about plot than noise.
|Surround Channel Use|
The video quality is rather good, but a little soft, and in the wrong aspect ratio.
The audio quality is fine for a mono soundtrack.
The extras are basic.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-737, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|