Queen of the Desert (2015)

PG-13   |    |  Adventure, Biography, Drama

Queen of the Desert (2015) Poster

A chronicle of Gertrude Bell's life, a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century.




  • Werner Herzog and Michael Benaroya at an event for Queen of the Desert (2015)
  • Werner Herzog at an event for Queen of the Desert (2015)
  • Nicole Kidman in Queen of the Desert (2015)
  • Nicole Kidman in Queen of the Desert (2015)
  • Nicole Kidman in Queen of the Desert (2015)
  • Nicole Kidman and Robert Pattinson in Queen of the Desert (2015)

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8 April 2017 | jdesando
Werner must have gotten lost in the desert. Nicole is not Lawrence.
Although it's not Lawrence of Arabia, and Robert Pattinson suffers from O'Toole comparison, director Werner Herzog still brings to life the hitherto little-known heroine, Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman). Her exploits at the beginning of the 20th century helped cast a favorite light on Bedouins and Druses as she moved among them and helped negotiate the end-of-WWI land split in Arabia and environs.

Herzog will have to suffer my criticism that remembers his crazed but magnetic wild men like Aguirre and Fitzcaraldo. Queen lacks the energy in his many stories of madmen like Aguirre. Here, while Nicole appears aristocratic and smart, she never rises above the thoughtful scholar or emerging anthropologist.

Alas, too much is the time spent with the two loves of her life and not enough time among the tribes and diplomats she had to corral to get her inside unknown territory. Why must women in movies still be defined by the men they love?

Herzog is not at his best with virtually half the film watching her dance around the Tehran Embassy diplomat, Henry Cadogan (James Franco), and the British officer, Charles Doughty-Wylie (Damian Lewis). Herzog misses the more romantic possibilities of her involvement in the war effort in favor of two not very interesting romances.

That her loves tend toward their suicide hints at the powerful woman who could have sparked these annihilations. Kidman, a fine actress who gives a nuanced performance here, is mostly directed to play coy more than adventuresome.

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