From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Orient Express was the name of a long-distance passenger train service originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. It ran from 1883 to 2009 and is not to be confused with the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train service, which continues to run.
The route and rolling stock of the Orient Express changed many times. Several routes in the past concurrently used the Orient Express name, or slight variants thereof. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name has become synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Istanbul, the original endpoints of the timetabled service.
In 1977, the Orient Express stopped serving Istanbul. Its immediate successor, a through overnight service from Paris to Vienna, ran for the very last time from Paris on Friday, June 8, 2007. After this, the route, still called the "Orient Express", was shortened to start from Strasbourg instead, occasioned by the inauguration of the LGV Est which affords much faster travel times from Paris to Strasbourg. The new curtailed service left Strasbourg at 22.20 daily, shortly after the arrival of a TGV from Paris, and was attached at Karlsruhe to the overnight sleeper service from Amsterdam to Vienna.
On 14 December 2009, the Orient Express ceased to operate and the route disappeared from European railway timetables, reportedly a "victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines". The Venice-Simplon Orient Express train, a private venture using original carriages from the 1920s and 30s, continues to run from London to Venice and to other destinations in Europe, including the original route from Paris to Istanbul.
In popular culture
The glamour and rich history of the Orient Express has frequently lent itself to the plot of books and films and as the subject of television documentaries.
- Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker: whilst Dracula escapes from England to Varna by sea, the cabal sworn to destroy him travels to Paris and takes the Orient Express, arriving in Varna ahead of him.
- Murder on the Orient Express (1934) by Agatha Christie is one of the best known stories related to the Orient Express. It takes place on the Simplon Orient Express.
- Oriënt-Express (1934) a novel by A. den Doolaard: it takes place in Macedonia.
- The short story "Have You Got Everything You Want?" (1933), by Agatha Christie
- The short story "On the Orient, North" by Ray Bradbury
- Stamboul Train by Graham Greene
- Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
- Flashman and the Tiger by George MacDonald Fraser: Sir Harry Paget Flashman travels on the train's first journey as a guest of the journalist Henri Blowitz.
- From Russia, with Love by Ian Fleming
- The Orient Express appeared in the 2004 novel Lionboy and its sequel Lionboy: The Case by Zizou Corder. Charlie Ashanti was stowing away on the train on his way to Venice when he meet King Boris of Bulgaria.
- Paul Theroux devotes a chapter of The Great Railway Bazaar to his journey from Paris to Istanbul on the Direct-Orient Express.
- The Orient Express appeared as a technologically advanced (for its time) train in the book Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld.
- Orient Express (1934): film adaptation of Graham Greene's Stamboul Train.
- Orient Express (1944): Germany; released on March 8, 1945, likely the last date a new movie was shown in Nazi Germany.
- Orient Express (1954), whose plot revolves around a two-day stop at a village in the Alps by passengers on the Orient Express.
- From Russia with Love (1963): James Bond's fight with a rival spy is set aboard the train.
- Istanbul Express (1968): thriller, made for television, starring Gene Barry.
- Travels with My Aunt (1972): Henry Pulling accompanies his aunt, Augusta Bertram, on a trip from London to Turkey. The two board the Orient Express in Paris; the train takes them to Turkey (though they disembark briefly at the Milan stop).
- Murder on the Orient Express (1974), (2001) and (2010): Film adaptations of the Agatha Christie novel.
- Romance on the Orient Express (1985): TV movie with Cheryl Ladd.
- 102 Dalmatians (2000)
- Death, Deceit and Destiny Aboard the Orient Express (2000)
- Around the World in 80 Days (2004): Mr. Fogg rides aboard the train to Istanbul.
- The Backyardigans episode "Le Master of Disguise" features the Orient Express, showing Uniqua, Pablo, Austin, Tasha, and Tyrone going to Istanbul from Paris.
- Mystery on the Orient Express: a television special featuring illusionist David Copperfield. During the special, Copperfield rode aboard the train and, at its conclusion, made the dining car seemingly disappear.
- "Minder on the Orient Express" (1985): a special episode of the long-running ITV sit-com Minder.
- Whicker's World - Aboard The Orient Express: Travel journalist Alan Whicker joined the inaugural service of the Venice-Simplon Orient Express to Venice in 1982, interviewing invited guests and celebrities along the way.
- Gavin Stamp's Orient Express: in 2007 UK's Five broadcast an arts/travel series which saw the historian journey from Paris to Istanbul along the old Orient Express route.
- The 1987 cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had an episode entitled "Turtles on the Orient Express". As the title suggests it is primarily based on the train.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Emergence": the train appears on the Enterprise's holodeck.
- In the British soap opera EastEnders, in 1986, characters Den and Angie Watts spent their honeymoon on the train. It was also where it was revealed that Angie was lying about her illness, preceding the ultimate storyline in Christmas 1986.
- "Aboard the Orient Express" Get Smart series 1, episode 13 is set on the Orient Express, though filmed on set.
- Michael Palin travels on the Orient Express in travel documentary series Around the World in 80 Days in which he retraces the footsteps of Phileas Fogg.
- In one episode of the British cartoon series Dangermouse, called "Dangermouse on the Orient Express" (a parody of Murder on the Orient Express), Dangermouse and Penfold travel on the train on their way back to London from Venice. Dangermouse's arch enemy Greenback is also on the train.
- In an episode of the television series Chuck, Chuck and Sarah decide to go AWOL and take a trip on the Orient Express.
- At the end of the Doctor Who episode "The Big Bang", the Doctor receives a call for help from the "Orient Express — in space."
- Orient Expressions: Musical group from Turkey who combine traditional Turkish music with elements of electronica.
- The Jean Michel Jarre album The Concerts in China has a track entitled "Orient Express" as track 1 of disc 2, though the relation to the train is unknown.
- A concert band piece, Orient Express is written by Philip Sparke.
Games and animation
- The role-playing game Call of Cthulhu RPG used the train for one of its more famous scenarios.
- Heart of China has a final sequence in the Orient Express. An action scene takes place on the roof.
- The Orient Express plays host to an adventure game by Jordan Mechner: The Last Express is a murder mystery game set around the last ride of the Orient Express before it suspended operations at the start of World War I. Robert Cath, an American doctor wanted by French police as he is suspected of the murder of an Irish police officer, and becomes involved in a maelstrom of treachery, lies, political conspiracies, personal interests, romance and murder. The game has 30 characters representing a cross-section of European forces at the time.
- The Adventure Company developed a point-and-click adventure based on Agatha Christie's novel, Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express.
- The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon spent the better part of an episode on the train.
- In 1994's season 1 episode of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? called, "The Gold Old Bad Days", Carmen Sandiego and her V.I.L.E. gang are give a challenge to do something low tech by The Player robbery. Carmen's goal is the train.
- The train is featured in Microsoft Train Simulator, where its route is a Template:Convert section from Innsbruck to Sankt Anton am Arlberg in Austria.
- The Orient Express was featured in two scenarios in the Railroad Tycoon series:
- The Orient Express cars were made available for download to use in Auran's Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004 or later versions by the content creation group: FMA.