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Queen of the Desert (2015)

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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


Werner Herzog (screenplay)
1,844 ( 271)
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicole Kidman ... Gertrude Bell
James Franco ... Henry Cadogan
Robert Pattinson ... T.E. Lawrence
Damian Lewis ... Richard Wylie
Jay Abdo ... Fattuh
Jenny Agutter ... Florance Bell
David Calder ... Hugh Bell
Christopher Fulford ... Winston Churchill
Nick Waring Nick Waring ... Sir Mark Sykes
Holly Earl ... Florence Lascelles
Mark Lewis Jones ... Lascelles
Beth Goddard ... Aunt Lascelles
Michael Jenn ... Thompson
William Ellis ... Early of Chester
John Wark ... Arnold Runcie


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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Based on the true story of one woman who defied an empire. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief nudity and some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



USA | Morocco


English | Arabic | Turkish | French

Release Date:

14 April 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Queen of the Desert See more »

Filming Locations:

Morocco See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (re-cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (5.1)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


James Franco replaced Jude Law in the role of Henry Cadogan. Law withdrew from the role after the project was delayed. See more »


The affair with Cadogan in Teheran was in 1892, thus 22 years prior to the opening scene, not 12, Queen Victoria was alive then. See more »


[first lines]
Sir Mark Sykes: [stadning at a map] Assuming become Ottoman Empire finally becomes defunct, Russia would get the Dardanelles, the portion closest to them, and the Italians the islands off the mainland.
Winston Churchill: And the French had no problem with that?
Charles Doughty-Wylie: The French have a problem with anything. That's their nature.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits are shown over footage of sand blowing across the desert. See more »

Alternate Versions

A new cut with a running time of 110 minutes was presented at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles on Nov.8 2015. The original version, which premiered in Feb. 2015 at the Berlinale and was released in some countries, has a running time of 128 minutes. See more »


References Gallipoli (1981) See more »


Les Nubiemes Valse
from the ballet "Faust"
Written by Charles Gounod
Performed by Vaughan Jones and The Manor House String Ensemble
See more »

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User Reviews

About as Bland and Lifeless As You Can Get
21 April 2017 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Queen of the Desert (2015)

* 1/2 (out of 4)

Nicole Kidman plays Gertrude Bell, the legendary British woman who would tackle various things in her lifetime and she would become one of the most loved figures in history. This Werner Herzog biography would make you think the only thing she accomplished was dating the wrong men.

Herzog is one of my favorite directors and I think everyone was excited when they learned that he was making another feature film and that he was going to be getting an actress like Kidman. The film would eventually hear boos at various screenings and it would limp into American theaters two years after it was first released. It would get some of the worst reviews of the director's career and it only managed to get back $2 million of its $36 million dollar budget.

QUEEN OF THE DESERT isn't as awful as some people have made it out to be but at the same time you can't help but call it a complete misfire on many levels. I think the majority of the blame has to go to Herzog's screenplay because this is a film about one of the most interesting women in the world and yet there's nothing interesting about her told here. For the life of me I can't figure out why this film only looks at her love life and outside of some narration, we'd never know what made her special.

I'm pretty sure Herzog was wanting to make an old'fashion epic with a strong leading lady. The problem here is that the screenplay is just deadly boring and none of the emotions the film works for are ever gotten. There's no romance, no drama, no comedy. There's really nothing here to be connected to and you basically just sit there wondering how such a film could go so wrong. At 128-minutes the film really drags in spots and it's just a real shame that the end result was so bland.

There are some good things to be said. The cinematography and music score are both extremely good. The locations used look terrific and there's no question that there are some beautiful visuals to look at. I'd also argue that Kidman was very good in the role and delivers a good performance but there's just nothing on the page for her to work with. James Franco is okay in his role and Robert Pattinson is good in the part of T.E. Lawrence.

QUEEN OF THE DESERT is sadly a film that will probably be remembered for it bombing at the box office and it coming from a legendary director. Herzog has done so many wonderful films in his life that you'd think this here would have been a sure thing but sadly it was a major bust.

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