Australian Council on Children and the Media

Murder on the Orient Express

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance recommended 13 to 15, due to violence, and scary scenes and themes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Murder on the Orient Express
  • a review of Murder on the Orient Express completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 November 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, and scary scenes and themes.
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, and scary scenes and themes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Murder on the Orient Express
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes
Length 114 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In 1934, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is travelling from Istanbul to London on the Orient Express as a guest of the train company’s owner, Bouc (Tom Bateman). The train is full of an amazing cast of characters including Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley) and Doctor Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jnr), both of whom Poirot had met in Istanbul. Other guests on the train include Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp) an obvious villain, his assistant Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench) and her assistant Hildegarde (Olivia Colman), Pilar (Penelope Cruz), a missionary, Caroline Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), a wealthy American socialite and Professor Hardman (Willem Dafoe).

Not long into the journey, one of the characters is found murdered in the cabin and Poirot is called on to investigate the crime. The train is held up by an avalanche which derails it for some time, during which Poirot manages to sort through the complexities of the case. It seems that a recent crime, which involved the abduction and murder of a young girl who was taken from her crib and later found dead in the woods, has a strong bearing on the case. This tragic story is mysteriously linked to all of the passengers on the train and it is up to Poirot to discover which one of them is the murderer.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Murder; kidnapping of a child; revenge

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is violence in this movie including:

  • Guards point a gun at a man accused of theft, who then tries to escape, pushing people over and causing chaos.
  • A man pinches a woman on the bottom and she hits him with her handbag.
  • A rather violent character attacks two men, punching and kicking them.
  • Ratchett threatens Poirot with a gun.
  • The victim is shown covered in blood on the bed.
  • MacQueen tries to get away and climbs down a high wooden bridge structure. Poirot chases him and MacQueen crashes through the bridge, falling to the ground.
  • Caroline Hubbard is seen with a knife in her back and the doctor has to pull it out.
  • The violent character attacks Poirot when Professor Hardman arrives pointing a gun.
  • Arbuthnot shoots Poirot in the arm.
  • Caroline Hubbard attempts to shoot herself but the gun is not loaded.
  • Several characters are shown stabbing someone with a knife but the victim is not shown.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group would find the above-mentioned scenes scary

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The abduction and killing of a child, as told by Poirot and seen in flashback, is likely to scare children in this age group.
  • When the avalanche hits the train, several people fall out of bed and the train is derailed.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Suicide is mentioned several times and Caroline Hubbard attempts to shoot herself

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by some scenes

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Some innuendo and mention of a prostitute

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • There is drinking at dinner and at the bar on the train. MacQueen is a constant drinker, drinking from a hip flask.
  • Several characters smoke.
  • One character is addicted to barbiturates

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • God; goddam; damn

In a nutshell

Murder on the Orient Express, the latest film based on the original Agatha Christie novel, is a murder mystery set aboard the legendary train. The main message from this movie is that anyone may be someone other than they appear to be. The scenery and cinematography are visually beautiful, and the stellar cast also carries this film, which pleasingly deviates slightly from the original story.

Unlike the 1974 film of this name which was rated PG, this new version is rated M. Due to violence, and scary scenes and themes, it is not recommended for children under 13 and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 13 to 15.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • the death of a loved one and the need to seek justice.

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