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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.

Director:

Werner Herzog

Writer:

Werner Herzog
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3,454 ( 1,797)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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 »
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Details

Country:

USA | Morocco

Language:

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 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,592,853
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (5.1)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Pattinson plays T.E. Lawrence in this film, a role that was earlier played by Ralph Fiennes in A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia (1992). Pattinson and Fiennes both appeared in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). See more »

Goofs

One character says "I thought the Victoria Cross was only for fallen heroes?", to which another replies "That's right". That's in fact wrong - it is a British medal for extreme heroism in wartime, but not just those who died fighting. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References Lawrence of Arabia (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Min Dira-L Dira
Written by Jay Abdo
Performed by Jay Abdo and Paul Paragon
See more »

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User Reviews

 
What A Beautiful Film
14 June 2016 | by frogsaroyanSee all my reviews

I believe that Queen of The Desert is greater than the sum of its parts, and that its parts are inspired to begin with. So many things about this film are beyond beautiful, they are sublime. I watched it twice. I don't know if Werner Herzog wanted to make a Hollywood-style period romance, and it doesn't matter to me whether anyone else thinks he achieved creating one or not.

The film isn't about a romance, it's about romance, period. Specifically, the romance that can find itself at the center of someone's life. Herzog told a story in which Bell had multiple romantic relationships that weren't just with people. In this way he gave her character a deep spiritual life. She had a fling with poetry and writing, an affair with the desert, passion for traveling, true love with multiple men, and loving friendships. In addition, every main character is shown to be loving in some way. I like TE Lawrence's character (played delightfully by Robert Pattinson) because he tries like mad to avoid romance, but also seems to be feigning his aversion.

In QOTD, many characters risk their lives for love, and some do give their lives. It isn't just one or two main characters, and it isn't just for the love of another person.

Near the end of QOTD, a bedouin leader asks Bell why she loves them (Arabs) so much. By her answer, which is a tribute to her trusted guide Fattuh, we understand what she's all about, and what this film is all about. It's beautifully written dialogue by Herzog.

One of my very favourite things about this film was the number of times Kidman was shown laughing. There is hardly a character in the film with whom she isn't seen sharing a good laugh. The film isn't funny, and Bell wasn't meant to be comedic. And yet there is this frequent laughter. That's joy. There's joy in this film. This is what has made Queen of The Desert one of my favourite movies of all time.

I enjoyed the "dreaminess" of the film. In no way was it psychedelic or self-referential (done for effect). It was written into Gertrude Bell's character. This was a wonderful artistic choice.

Random things I loved: The references to poetry and literature. The loud camels nearly ruining the grand orchestral score. The steampunk-ish pistols in the case. James Franco flirting like only James Franco can. The snow in the desert! No subtitles. And most of all, the use of a good number of truly great actors from around the world who are of Arab descent.

Some favourite moments: the close-up on Bell when she and Cadogan hold hands for the first time. When Doughty-Wylie kisses her for the first time and her reaction is shown at length (such complex acting from Kidman and Lewis here, especially Kidman). The hand-held camera at the desert camp. The pain of the young Arab messenger as he confesses to Bell, "I would give anything for a woman like you," knowing he would never see her again but for that moment. The Shiek of the Druze talking Virgil.

Anytime a filmmaker is both writer and director, like Herzog is here, there will be a divergence from the tropes of the genre in which his film may be expected to fit. Hopefully the audience will buy in to his vision. I did wholeheartedly.


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