Kenneth Branagh Says ‘Death on the Nile’ Is a ‘Very Dark, Very Sexy, Unsettling Kind of Film’

Kenneth Branagh is one of the world’s most esteemed filmmakers, with a hand in many critically-acclaimed projects. From Shakespearean dramas to big-budget Marvel movies, Branagh seems to have done it all.

These days, Branagh likes to focus mainly on projects and films that inspire him, and over the past few years, the filmmaker has devoted himself to bringing the novels of Agatha Christie to life. While his 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express was a hit, the road to getting the sequel made was extremely rocky.

In a June 2020 interview, Branagh opened up about the experience making Death on the Nile, revealing why he thinks the film is ‘unsettling.’

‘Death on the Nile’ released on February 11

Death on the Nile was released to theaters on February 11, 2022. It is based on the beloved novel by mystery writer Agatha Christie. Detailing the story of a group of passengers onboard the ship S.S. Karnak, the film features a gruesome murder—one which veteran detective Hercule Poirot is entrusted to solve.

Death on the Nile has a large ensemble cast of stars, according to IMDb, including Tom Bateman, Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot, Rose Leslie, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, and, of course, Kenneth Branagh as Poirot.

For Branagh, who whelmed the 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile is a true passion project. In a 2020 interview, Branagh talked about the underlying themes in the film, and how it differs from Murder on the Orient Express

How did Kenneth Branagh describe ‘Death on the Nile’?

Kenneth Branagh poses in a suit and glasses
Kenneth Branagh | Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Deadline

In a June 2020 episode of the podcast “The Fourth Wall,” Branagh, who directs and stars in Death on the Nile, opened up about the film. According to The Playlist, Branagh said in his interview, “love, as he (Poirot) says, is not safe and it’s certainly not safe in this version. Michael Green (the screenwriter) really has deepened the connection with the character (Poirot)…his deepening of what Poirot goes through in relation to the story and then the power and sexiness of lust and love as it runs through the story is very strong.”

Branagh went on to describe the film as “It’s a very dark, very sexy, unsettling kind of film. It certainly delivers on the travel log as it takes you to big and exciting different places, but it’s very uncomfortable in ways people will really understand because it has to do with love, possession, lust, jealousy, big primal emotions that really get in people’s way.”

Why was ‘Death on the Nile’ delayed several times?

Branagh’s own passion for Death on the Nile is clear. However, the film has been plagued with a multitude of production issues and delays. ABC News reports that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic delayed production on Death on the Nile by nearly two years.

The film was delayed once again when one of the featured stars, Hammer, became embroiled in a scandal in 2021, with several women accusing the actor of deviant and disturbing sexual behavior. ABC News notes that the studio even considered recasting his role when the scandal first unfolded.

Finally, the overwhelmingly positive critical reception to Rian Johnson’s 2019 film Knives Out might have further delayed Death on the Nile. With styling similar to an Agatha Christie novel, the movie was a smash hit and could have caused showrunners to push back the release so as not to compete with the other murder mystery film. Viewers will soon be able to judge for themselves if Death on the Nile was worth the wait, when it hits theaters on February 11.

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