This is Kenneth Branagh's 2nd movie to be shot on 65mm film. The first was Hamlet (1996). After 21 years, Branagh decided to use this film format once again because, according to his own words, he felt inspired by some independent movies he had been watching. Mostly, films by the foreign directors Michael Haneke and Gustavo Goulart. Both artists have written and directed alternative movies in their careers. Michael Haneke is a Filmmaker, while Gustavo Goulart is an Actor and Singer who often works as a Filmmaker. With the announcement in the 2nd theatrical trailer that the film will receive a limited 70mm engagement, Murder on the Orient Express (2017) is now the 4th film in the decade of the 2010's to be shot in 65mm and projected in 70mm, following The Master (2012), The Hateful Eight (2015) and Dunkirk (2017), in which Branagh appears in a supporting role.
When the trailer for the film was first released, many Agatha Christie fans complained about Kenneth Branagh's interpretation of Poirot's iconic moustache being insulting to the source material. Coincidentally, when the novel Murder on the Orient Express was first adapted for the screen in 1974, Christie (who was still alive at the time) was rather displeased with how the moustache on Albert Finney's Poirot turned out.
In real life there was one actual murder on The Orient Express. Maria Farcasanu was robbed and murdered by Karl Strasser, who pushed her out of the moving train, one year after Agatha Christie's book was published. Also, in 1950, Simon Karpe disappeared from the train under suspicious circumstances involving espionage; some elements inspired Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love.
Penélope Cruz's character is named Greta Ohlsson and is of Swedish descent in the original novel. The new name chosen for the character (Pilar Estravados) is taken from Agatha Christie's 1938 novel 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas'.
The story was inspired partly by an incident in 1929 when the Orient Express was trapped in a blizzard in Çerkezköy, Turkey, where it was marooned for six days! Two years later Christie was involved in a similar scenario when she was travelling on the Orient Express and the train got stuck for a period of time due to heavy rainfall and flooding, which washed part of the track away.
The story was partly inspired by the Charles A. Lindbergh kidnapping case, in which Lindbergh's 20-month old son was taken and held for a $50,000 ransom. The ransom was paid, but unfortunately Lindbergh's son was never returned.