Showing all posts tagged: Nicole Kidman

Queen of the Desert, by Werner Herzog, with Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson

31 May 2016

Scene from Queen of the Desert, depicting stars Nicole Kidman and Robert Pattinson.

Still from Queen of the Desert , a film by Werner Herzog.

Born in England in 1868, Gertrude Bell spent the early decades of the twentieth century travelling across the Middle East, in what is now Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iran, and Jordan. She was a writer, archaeologist, and explorer, and was much respected by both the British, and the peoples of the region. She also played a part in establishing latter day Iraq and Jordan.

In Queen of the Desert, trailer, the Werner Herzog (Invincible, Cave of Forgotten Dreams) made depiction of her life, she is portrayed by Nicole Kidman. Bell is desperate to flee the clutches of her stifled upper class life, and leaps at the opportunity to leave, when her father (David Calder) offers to send her to stay in Tehran with her uncle, the British ambassador.

Upon arriving, Bell is soon enamoured by the free-spirited way of life in the Middle East, and sets her sights on seeing as much of the area as possible, plus meeting the local inhabitants, and their tribal leaders. She also catches the eye of several British military and diplomatic personnel, including Henry Cadogan (James Franco), and T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia (Robert Pattinson).

Nicole Kidman meets Lawrence of Arabia? Who wouldn’t want to see a film where that happens? Maybe quite a few people, and it almost seems the producers were hoping this drawcard meeting would carry the story. Instead, Queen of the Desert presents as little more than a perfunctory re-counting of Bell’s exploits in the Middle East. The performances by the leads are competent, but I think audiences may be left feeling unsure what sort of film Herzog was trying to make.

Originally published Tuesday 31 May 2016. Updated Sunday 21 April 2024.


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