Kenneth Branagh on the Challenges of Doing the World’s Longest 65mm Steadicam Shot

     November 6, 2017

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With Murder on the Orient Express opening in North America this weekend, a few days ago I sat down with director Kenneth Branagh to talk about the making of the film. While I had a lot of questions for him after watching the movie, the one thing I knew I had to talk about was the epic five minute 65mm Steadicam closing shot. If you’re not aware, doing a long Steadicam shot is hard on its own, but trying to do it when you’re shooting on 65mm film adds an entirely new challenge due to the weight of the camera. He talked about the films that inspired him to close the film in this fashion, what it was like telling the producers he wanted to do it, the challenge of trying to pull it off when almost the entire cast is in the shot, what he learned from early screenings, if he would release an extended cut on Blu-ray, and a lot more.

kenneth-branaghmurder-on-the-orient-express-movie

Image via 20th Century Fox

As most of you know, Murder on the Orient Express is based on the Agatha Christie mystery novel of the same name, the film follows famous detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he tries to solve the murder of one of the passengers aboard the Orient Express. The film also features an all-star cast made up of Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Tom Bateman, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Sergei Polunin.

Check out what Kenneth Branagh had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about followed by the synopsis.

Kenneth Branagh:

  • Talks about putting together the final shot of the movie which is a 5-minute steadicam shot which was filmed in 65mm.
  • Talks about his inspiration for wanting to do the shot.
  • What is it like telling the producers that you want to do a very special closing shot?
  • How almost the entire cast of the film is in the shot and what kind of challenge that adds to the shot.
  • How the crew likes event shots.
  • How long was his first cut?
  • Did he make changes as a result of friends and family/test screenings?
  • judi-dench-olivia-colman-murder-on-the-orient-express

    Image via 20th Century Fox

    Will he do an extended cut on the Blu-ray?

Here’s the official synopsis for Murder on the Orient Express:

What starts out as a lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever told. From the novel by best-selling author Agatha Christie, “Murder on the Orient Express” tells the tale of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect. One man must race against time to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again. Kenneth Branagh directs and leads an all-star cast including- Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad.

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