MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express...
    The luxurious Orient Express, running from Paris to Istanbul and back, symbolized the glamour of travel...
    As the famed train pulls out of its easternmost station,
    Mr. Ratchett [Johnny Depp] is pleased to discover that the beautiful, wealthy
    Mrs. Hubbard
    [Michelle Pfeiffer] as been assigned an adjoining stateroom. The door is firmly locked on her side...

    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Stanbol station, Istanbul…

    Created entirely at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England.

    Set Decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA
    gives us insider information about the sets...
    “Jim Clay's vision of the station was hugely exciting from a set decorator's point of view because I had this huge cathedral space to play with. The train was dressed down to every small detail, inside and out...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Stanboul station, Istanbul…

    The enormity of the architecture warranted huge scale Turkish lamps, wall lights, station clocks, multiple period tannoy systems, signage & brackets...all to be designed to fit the scale. I had drawings done of all these station elements and huge prop making departments were set the task of manufacturing these all from scratch....

    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Istanbul…
    As Count Andrenyi
    [Sergei Polunin]
    looks on from the bar,
    Mr. Ratchett [Johnny Depp] gives instruction to his private secretary, the former lawyer
    Hector MacQueen [Josh Gad] at the Arasta Bazaar cafe...

    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Istanbul…
    Famous ballet dancer Count Andrenyi [Sergei Polunin] does not appreciate the constant paparazzi!

    Alleway recalls,
    The Arasta Bazaar restaurant/bar/cafe was a large composite set build that consisted of 5 different spaces that flowed into one another - a bar, cafe, restaurant, the locals’ area and a kitchen...

    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Istanbul…
    The Arasta Bazaar restaurant was built and dressed as part of a large composite set. It was the place that all the wealthy Europeans would come to sample the Turkish delicacies before boarding The Orient Express. This looked out onto the Arasta Bazaar parade and shops, It had to fit in with the style of the exterior, feel opulent and at yet fit in with the faded grandeur of the Turkish architecture...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Istanbul…
    I did a large amount of research for the Arasta Bazaar kitchen set, and then designed and manufactured all the counters, shelving, tiled cooking area and bread oven. All befitting this large scale Turkish kitchen...

    For more...see below!


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Istanbul,
    Arasta Bazaar…

    The Arasta Bazaar was a 100-metre long street bazaar and market. I started with mood-boarding every shop and all areas of the market. These are samples of just a couple of the shops dressed for this set. Director Kenneth Branagh didn't want to fall into the usual clichés and I had to avoid anything brass seen at the usual tourists markets and arcades of the period. So this set had a very local Turkish feel...
    *For more see below!


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Istanbul,
    Arasta Bazaar …

    Household goods...
    I did a huge amount of research for the street parade and market, and then produced over 50 mood boards just for this one set in order to ensure that every shop was different...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Istanbul,
    Arasta Bazaar …

    Shoemakers flanked by the other stalls...
    I started prepping for this set very early on in prep because I knew it would absorb huge amounts of dressing and most of it I would need to purchase or have manufactured...

    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Jaffa Port,
    Jerusalem…

    The film was shot at a large film studio in the UK with the exception of The Wailing Wall and Jaffa Port in Jerusalem, where Poirot sets sail for Istanbul, both filmed in Malta. I had a team there manufacturing all the ‘Jaffa’ orange crates and other dressing details taken from the large amounts of photographic research available for Jaffa Port in the 1930s...
    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Stanboul station, Istanbul…

    The set dec team started collecting luggage very early on in order to have enough pieces for all the hundreds of extras on both platforms. After drawing a plan of the station, I realized that we would need over thirty period benches on both platforms. We had the hard task of finding a company in Europe that could manufacture and make this many that were correct for feel and period...
    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Stanboul station, Istanbul…

    The train was pulled in and out of the station on a mile of track. It was built and dressed to withstand the movement of a real train. It was a fantastic dressing advantage to be able to stand inside all of the completed carriages after they were dressed to see the view onto the platforms and vice versa...Especially as Kenneth had planned vast tracking shots along the whole platform, inside and outside of the train!


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    One of the biggest jobs for set dec was manufacturing multiples of the original fittings of the Orient Express and then having them all chromed. One of our buyers was given the task of overseeing all the pulleys, emergency buttons, door handles, window dressing, door hinges and all the interior corridor and compartment ironmongery. There was a permanent dressing team dedicated to fitting these all throughout the film...
    *For more see below!
    Michelle Pfeiffer
    Photo by Nicola Dove



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    Count & Countess Andrenyi's suite comprised of a sleigh bed with bedside tables, opulent fabric made into cushions and bedcover, with fabric covering all the walls. The bedside lamps were molded from a deco vase...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    This was one of the many suites, which were much larger than most of the other compartments. We built and dressed all the compartments for both the interior & exterior of the trains. This was to give us the ability to continuously glide inside and outside, as if on a real train. We built and dressed some of the key character compartments on separate stages at Longcross, larger and with floating walls...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    One of the stateroom suites...
    All the furniture was upholstered to contrast with the fabrics I chose for the walls. The deep aubergine palette was carried throughout the train interiors, although every suite and compartment had a very individual style and different fabrics...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    All the compartments had a small basin area, as seen in the Johnny Depp/Mr. Ratchett scene. The Andrenyri's and Princess Dragojmiroff's suites had closets and ensuite bathrooms, and they were fitted with chandeliers and silk draped ceilings...



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    Princess Dragojmiroff's suite had a slightly different color palette. She had a much more decorative sleigh bed, befitting a Princess but still fitting in with the overall style of the train. The wall lights, although similar to the molded ones in the Andrenyri's suite, had a more decorative nouveau feel. The painting was done by one of the key scenics...



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    The crocodile skin travelling set on Princess Dragojmiroff's dressing table is an original 1930's piece that was lent to us. It was worth so much money that we had to put it in a safe every night and a prop man was assigned the job to look after it...

    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox





  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    A lot time and thought went into all hand props and action props we purchased. The set dec assistants scoured the country for stylish sliver and glassware. I knew that they were going to be seen in detail, so we tried to get all these elements looking as fabulous as they would have been on the original Orient Express. Of course they had a deco feel too, so they fitted in with the overall style of the train...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Salon car…

    This was one of several salon carriages we built and dressed.
    All the furniture was either manufactured by set dec or sourced and purchased. Many of the items dressed on the bar were found at antique fairs and dealers. When a set is so minimal, there is more pressure to select an object that is ‘spot on’ for style and period...


    *For more see below!


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Salon car…

    The shelves were designed with bars to look stylish but also to add a practical element that came into consideration when thinking about all the details and designs for a train. A lot of research went into all the wines and spirits used on the Orient Express, including those in the storage car that housed all the vintage bottles and crates. The salon bar was the hub of the Orient Express and we created an extensive cocktail menu...




  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    This was the Salon car dressed on the viaduct...
    Unlike the identical one dressed on the LED sound stage which was easy to access, this one was a huge logistical feat, but we all forgot (including the actors) that we were on a set 100 ft in the air when shooting began, it was so realistic...

    *For more see below!

    Judi Dench as
    Princess Dragomiroff,
    Olivia Colman as Miss Schmidt,
    Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham




  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Salon car…

    Set dec designed and manufactured all the dressing in the salon car, from tables, lamps and bar, to sofas and chairs. When the fabric was sourced, availability was a key factor due to the amounts we needed for the repeat carriages and sets. The palette was very much influenced by Kenneth and Jim's vision...

    Daisy Ridley, Olivia Coleman, Derek Jacobi, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom, Jr.
    ©2017 20th Century Fox



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Salon car…

    Kenneth Branagh wanted to avoid the over-decorative style of the Art Nouveau period usually associated with the Orient Express, so we embraced a more minimalist Art Deco feel with all the fabrics and patterns...



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Dining car…

    The ceilings and a lot of the walls were covered in fabric tying in the 1930's Deco palette. There were over 200 wall, table and ceiling lamps molded and manufactured for all the various train interiors. Some of the molds were taken from one-off antique lamps. The table lamps were molded from a '30s vase...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Dining car…

    This dining car was shot on one of the sound stages with 20-metres LED light boxes projecting the exterior travelling scenes. This scene is where the staff are handing menus for the start of breakfast. We had full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus and foods on standby for all the dining car scenes...

    *For more see below!


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Dining car…

    Kenneth Branagh wanted a clean stylish look for the dining sets in all the carriages. So it's crisp minimal look was intentional. We had constant flows of food and drinks from the kitchen and open hatch in the background when we shot all the dining room scenes.

    *For more see below!

    Willem Dafoe
    ©2017 20th Century Fox



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Dining car and kitchen…

    You could walk from one end to the train to the other...
    This was the Viaduct train interior which was built and dressed fully for the mountain scenes, but we also built an entire second train for the Istanbul Station set. Doubling up on dressing was a huge part of this job, so pretty much everything was made or purchased because we needed so many repeats to cover all the trains built on all the other sets...



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Kitchen…

    The kitchen oven, sink, cupboards and shelves were all designed & manufactured by set dec. We had to make two kitchens for the multiple carriages. Drawing on references from the original Orient Express and the countries where it travelled, we tried to be as authentic as possible with all kitchenware, appliances and produce...



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Kitchen passageway…

    A lot of the extras were sent on a course at Claridge’s, and we had a special advisor who came onto set to help.
    Set dec provided an extensive list of jobs and props for them to act with to add to the overall authenticity...


    *For more see below!

    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Storage car…

    This was one of several storage cars built and dressed. Most of the dressing was done once the train had been craned up onto the
    100-ft high viaduct set.
    This made the process of dressing quite a challenge, particularly the logistics of how to get everything onto the viaduct and how to keep it fresh...


    *For more see below!


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Baggage car…

    The baggage car was full of the main cast’s luggage, all purchased and carefully selected for each character. Unlike the US system, in the UK, the set decorators also are in charge of all action props & hand props. I had buyers and assistants on full time just to fulfill the requirements for each of the characters, and all other hand and action props.
    The large black travelling trunk was part of Hercule Poirot's 5-piece set...



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Storage car…

    This set was on a raised platform 100-feet high built over months on the back lot, including sculpted mountains. The train was dressed for the full interior—all corridors, kitchens, salon, dining room, compartments and storage—which took huge planning. Anything that could be fixed onto the train for this exterior and interior viaduct train set was dressed before the train was craned onto the viaduct...
    Kenneth Branagh
    Daisy Ridley
    Photo by Nicola Dove



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Baggage car…

    This was part of the exterior on that 100-feet high 'viaduct'. Kenneth wanted to bring as many different scenes as he could outside of the train and you get a real sense of the scale of the train we built and dressed. The dressing for this scene was chosen for its campaign style and is realistically the kind of collapsible furniture found in the original Orient Express...

    Kenneth Branagh
    Daisy Ridley
    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express,
    Baggage car…

    The ‘viaduct train’ was a full scale tender with four carriages. All the ironmongery, handles, lights, graphics on the exterior were purchased and manufactured by our in-house propmakers. It was a massive job not only due to the size of the carriages and the amount of details, but also because we had to repeat all the interiors and exteriors for the train sets built on all the other stages...

    Kenneth Branagh
    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Daisy Armstrong’s bedroom…
    The daughter of the famous pilot was kidnapped from her nursery and later murdered...

    The Agatha Christie novel was based on a real case from the period, so I started looking at documentary footage and photographs taken from this case. Jim and Kenneth wanted to move away from the traditional American style period mansion, so we looked at a more modernist approach befitting the overall style of the film...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Armstrong mansion…
    The mansion had to be opulent but emulate the modernist movement in style. I designed the Lloyd Wright style wall lights and modernist paintings to give it a unique modernist feel. We dressed most the house with dust sheets and minimal furniture because the Armstrong family had abandoned it since the kidnapping and death of their child...


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    Daisy Armstrong’s bedroom…
    The nanny [Penélope Cruz]...
    Later she is a passenger on the Orient Express...

    The fabrics were sourced all over Europe and the states. I tried to find ones that suited the style of the modernist mansion, were correct for period and looked good in black and white...

    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox.



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    “The set dec team included a buyer who was just dedicated to tender engine and exterior train parts. A huge amount of research went into sourcing anything we could mold, copy or use for the exterior engine and all the carriages. We sourced beautiful 1930's ironmongery and period lighting fittings, which were then manufactured in great quantities by our propmaking workshop.”

    Kenneth Branagh
    Photo by Nicola Dove
    ©2017 20th Century Fox



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Jim Clay

    Twentieth Century Fox


    The Orient Express…
    “The engine being craned up onto the 30-metre high mountainous, snowy ‘viaduct’. Anything that could be adhered, we dressed into the train before it was raised, but most of it was dressed once it was in place...a logistical challenge!”


 
In the most timeless of whodunits, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS follows renowned detective Hercule Poirot [Kenneth Branagh] as he attempts to solve what would become one of the most infamous crimes in history.
–Twentieth Century Fox
 
Here is fascinating information from Twentieth Century Fox, including kudos to Director Kenneth Branagh, Set Decorator Rebecca Alleway SDSA, Production Designer Jim Clay, Supervising Art Director Dominic Masters and their inimitable teams...
 
THE ORIENT EXPRESS
The Orient Express long-distance passenger train service was established in 1833 and connected Paris to Istanbul.  It symbolized the glamour of travel and its undeniable elegance and prominence within the story makes it stand out as one of the main characters of the film.
 
To that end, it was essential to recreate an Orient Express with an impeccable attention to detail, which meant, following extensive research, the train was built not once, but twice, and more...
 
A fully moving train, dressed inside and out, and comprised of a locomotive, a tender and four complete carriages was built and able to move along the nearly one mile of track that was laid down at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England. The locomotive alone weighed about 22 tons, with each additional carriage weighing in at around 25 tons.
All of the interiors of the carriages, the dining, salon, storage, baggage and sleeper cars were also constructed a second time, with lavish interiors and floating walls to allow filming inside. 
 
DETAILS...
A huge amount of research went into every detail of dressing the carriages including the
cutlery, crockery, glassware and the luggage. Poirot's luggage included a grooming kit for his legendary moustache, which was designed in order that Poirot could complete his precise grooming process anywhere in the world. Alleway recalls, “Kenneth Branagh, who plays Poirot, had a very particular idea of what his luggage should be and look like, so we had it all custom made. We sourced a special prop company, Anarchy, to make all these pieces. It took many months and many meetings to agree on what they should be. The interiors opened out like Aladdin's Cave and were very intricate, fitted to hold every unique piece."
 
In an attempt to keep the experience as real as possible for the cast, the filmmakers shot hours of footage of a train travelling across an expansive mountain-scape, which was then digitally stitched together and played on 2500 LED screens wrapped around each individual carriage to give the impression of a moving train.  With the addition of hydraulics and air bellows beneath each of the carriages, the movement of the train along the track could also be simulated. Caught up in the moment, many of the cast really felt that they were on a moving train and sometimes wobbled when they came off set.
 
THE LOOK OF THE FILM
A devotee of the picture definition and unrivalled depth that shooting on 65mm can afford, Director Kenneth Branagh and team shot the film using the last four 65mm Panavision cameras in the world.
 
In addition to the carriage interiors, a number of sets were also constructed at Longcross, all of which had to hold up under the intense scrutiny of 65mm projection. The original source material story is an essentially sedentary one, but whilst the filmmakers wanted to demonstrate the claustrophobic atmosphere of the train interiors, they also wanted to give this film a more epic scope and heighten the drama, and to that end, several sets were constructed taking the action out of the train...
 
The breathtaking Stamboul Station, Istanbul from which the Orient Express departs on its journey to Paris was built on the largest soundstage at Longcross, the set filled with huge columns, exotic lighting and comprised of two tracks with platforms on either side. 
 
Alleway gives us further insight...
Because Longcross was originally a factory for building and testing tanks, we had an advantage as the stage had two big doors at one end, so we were able to build the track the full length of the stage, and indeed take it out of the stage and into the car park. We were even permitted to close part of the studio road, in order to pull the whole of the train out of the station as it set off on its journey. An extraordinary sight to witness!
 
Alongside Stamboul Station, we built and dressed several other train stations on the back lot at Longcross. These were stations on the Orient Express journey where the train stopped and loaded with sumptuous goods.
 
The train...
The train carriage compartments, suites, corridors, salon, dining car, storage and kitchen areas were actually built multiple times to accommodate shooting in the different environments. We had a train built and dressed to shoot the exterior and interior on the vast viaduct set and all the station environments. We then built and dressed the interior carriages in the studio that were used for some of the interiors shots. All the suites and compartments were built as part of the composite train as well, but also as individual sets on stage, so they were made slightly bigger and had floating walls. All compartments and suites were dressed to suit character and status.
 
The ‘viaduct train’ was a full scale tender with four carriages. This set was on top of a massive 100-ft viaduct platform built over months on the back lot of Longcross...complete with sculpted mountains...for all the scenes shot after the train has been hit by an avalanche. The train was craned onto the viaduct and then we dressed it! This was a huge logistical challenge. The train was dressed for the full interior—with all corridors, kitchens, salon, dining room, compartments and storage—which took exceedingly detailed planning. Therefore, anything that could be fixed onto the train for this exterior and interior set was dressed before the train was craned onto the viaduct! However, most of the dressing was done after the train had been craned up onto the 100 ft high set, which made the process quite a challenge.
 
The set dec team included a buyer who was just dedicated to tender engine and exterior train parts. An enormous amount of research went into sourcing anything we could mold, copy or use for the exterior engine and all the carriages. We sourced beautiful 1930's ironmongery and period lighting fittings, which were then manufactured in great quantities by our propmaking workshop.
 
Arasta Bazaar, Istanbul...
One of the biggest sets outside of the train was the Arasta Bazaar in Istanbul, which was built on one of the larger stages at Longcross. We dressed long, wide streets with shops, traders, restaurants and the Orient Express check-in area. We flowed from the street into the large Arasta Bazaar restaurant, which was divided into 5 different areas: the open café, the bar, a restaurant, the local Turkish café area and then several kitchen spaces where all Turkish delicacies and baking took place.
 
All the sets were built at Longcross with the exception of The Wailing Wall and the Jerusalem Port, which were built and dressed on location in Malta. Poirot’s Jerusalem hotel bedroom, lobby and reception were planned to be filmed on location in Malta, but for scheduling reasons, we ended up building them all at Longcross! Sadly, the large hotel lobby and reception never made it into the final film.
 
Armstrong mansion...
Other large sets were constructed for the all the flashbacks to include the Frank Lloyd Wright style Armstrong mansion, a New York street and a courtroom. Daisy Armstrong’s bedroom in the flashback sequence was a small set compared to the rest of the film, but it carried the weight of being shown in black and white. Most furniture for this set was sourced through dealers of American Shaker-style furniture. All the toys were found through toy fairs and antique shops, so every detail was correct for period and style. I tested all the fabrics and colors in black and white before committing to anything and had some of the furniture painted to create more contrast. The Armstrong mansion was a large set and all the furniture was carefully considered for its scale. It was a balance between dressing it to give it a richness but also at the same time a minimalist and oppressive feel. It, too, had to work in color and for black & white. I designed the Lloyd Wright style wall lights and modernist paintings to give it a unique modernist feel.
 
The period...
I started the film after I received a call from Production Designer Jim Clay, asking me to come in for a meeting with him and Kenneth. Unfortunately the original Set Decorator, Caroline Smith, had to leave for personal reasons. Jim and Ken were both quite clear that they wanted to steer away the more decorative Art Nouveau style and edge towards the more geometric patterns of the Art Deco period. Luckily, I had researched this period many times before and was armed with a large amount of research material and resources!
 
I genuinely think this was an amazing piece of production design by Jim and an extraordinary logistical feat by Dominic Masters the Supervising Art Director, and the Art and Set Dec department.
 
 
 

 
Editor’s note:
Bonus!
*More details from Set Decorator Rebecca Alleway SDSA about the photos in the gallery above!
 
Arasta Bazaar kitchen...
In the script, Poirot was obsessed by his food and all the Turkish delicacies. So, on the days we shot on this set, I had food stylist Katherine Tidy produce fresh breads and an extensive array of Turkish foods, the menu having been discussed in great detail months in advance...
 
Arasta Bazaar...
All the shops sold different produce and goods because originally Director Kenneth Branagh had planned lengthy tracking shots with Penélope Cruz passing by the whole length of the street, so each shop had to stand up to close scrutiny...
 
Orient Express carriage corridor...
We had all the blinds made custom for each carriage on all the different trains on all the sets. We laid large amounts of carpet on the floors throughout each carriage and repeat carriages. The designs were printed especially for the film
 
Orient Express Salon car...
By the time we dressed this one on the LED sound stage, we had already started shooting on the salon carriage on the viaduct train, so we knew exactly what worked. Various antiques were dressed to shot, like cocktail trolleys and trolleys full of beautiful glass & silverware.
At both ends of the carriage, wallpaper was decorated on the panels to set off the sumptuous textures Jim had designed for the veneered walnut effect carriage walls...
 
Orient Express Salon car on viaduct...
Unlike the identical one dressed on the LED sound stage which was easy to access, this one was a huge logistical feat. Getting all the props and dressing up onto the 100 ft (30 metre) viaduct covered in huge piles of snow surrounded by a mountainous landscape was a long and arduous job, but we all forgot (including the actors) that we were on a set 100 ft in the air when shooting began, it was so realistic....
 
Orient Express Dining car...
The dining tables were manufactured with a leather inlay, in case we saw any of them without the tablecloths. They were permanently fitted into the train, which was one element we didn't have to redress, although we had several ‘dining carriages’ being shot on at the same time on different stages at Longcross!
Many food boards were produced throughout the film's prep. The food stylist created some beautiful cakes and desserts, and some fabulous Orient Express savory dishes. They were all a huge visual feast to the eye but sadly we don't see them in the final cut...
 
Orient Express kitchen passageway...
Our extras, the ‘staff’ of the ‘Orient Express’, were kept busy when we shot the preparation scenes with the loading and carrying of all the food produce, polishing of the silver and pressing the linen...
 
Orient Express storage car...
We originally had big scenes with ‘Orient Express staff and workers’ loading all the amazing produce for each of the stops it made around Europe. Every crate was carefully selected to reflect the counties unique ingredients. For example fine wines, cheese and meats from Paris, breads from the Slavic countries and a vast selection of fruit and vegetables from Istanbul—all based on detailed research from the 1930's Orient Express menus and linked with the countries with whom they traded.
 
 



film decor archives
CRAZY RICH ASIANS
BLACKKKLANSMAN
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
DEADPOOL 2
WOMAN WALKS AHEAD
BOOK CLUB
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
ANNIHILATION
A WRINKLE IN TIME
TOMB RAIDER
BLACK PANTHER
BLADE RUNNER 2049
PHANTOM THREAD
THE POST
MOLLY'S GAME
NOVITIATE
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING
AMERICAN MADE
TULIP FEVER
SPIDER-MAN:HOMECOMING
THE BEGUILED
BABY DRIVER
ALIEN: COVENANT
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
LOGAN
FIFTY SHADES DARKER
ARRIVAL
LA LA LAND
20th CENTURY WOMEN
HAIL, CAESAR!
ALLIED
THE FOUNDER
PASSENGERS
JACKIE
HACKSAW RIDGE
MOONLIGHT
THE DRESSMAKER
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
MASTERMINDS
MASTERMINDS
THE BFG
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
BATMAN v SUPERMAN: Dawn of Justice
MILES AHEAD
THE BIG SHORT
THE MARTIAN
BRIDGE OF SPIES
TRUMBO
SECRET IN THEIR EYES
SPY
TERMINATOR: GENISYS
JUPITER ASCENDING
SEVENTH SON
BIRDMAN
SELMA
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE 5 ARMIES
WHIPLASH
GET ON UP
CHEF
x-men: days of future past
the amazing spider-man 2
nebraska
lovelace
inside llewyn davis
saving mr. banks
rush
prisoners
world war z
star trek into darkness
lincoln
the master
cloud atlas
the bourne legacy
lawless
the amazing spider-man
the avengers
good deeds
hugo
the help
twilight: breaking dawn, part 1
my week with marilyn
the ides of march
what's your number?
contagion
cowboys & aliens
super 8
the conspirator
limitless
little fockers
the next three days
the social network
agora
knight & day
sex & the city 2
sherlock holmes
the lovely bones
inglourious basterds
cirque du freak