Queen of the Desert (Trailer Review)

There are many good films coming soon … and many bad ones.

Then there’s Queen of the Desert, which looks like it wants to be a prestige biopic, but also looks like it’s going to be really, really bad.

Nicole Kidman plays Gertrude Bell, a woman whose life was exciting enough for several films.

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Bell was a writer, traveller, mountaineer, archaeologist, cartographer, and spy.

Fluent in five languages, she was as vital to the history of the Middle East as T.E. Lawrence, having served as confidante of British officials as well as tribal leaders, and was instrumental in the founding of modern Iraq.

She also witnessed the Armenian genocide.

She suffered from poor health and died in 1926 from an overdose of sleeping pills, though it’s not clear if her death was an accident or suicide.

She was, in brief, a complicated person.

None of that complexity seems to be in evidence in the trailer for Queen of the Desert.

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Mostly it’s just Kidman riding horses (and camels), bewitching men, staring off into the distance in the desert, arguing with horrid Army types, going against her father’s wishes, and being a thoroughly modern who has no time for the sexist niceties of the day.

Stuffy bureaucrat: “You were summoned.”

Bell [haughtily]: “No one summons me.”

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And considering it takes place mostly in the Middle East, most of the characters are English, except for a few noble-sounding Arabs who say nice things about Bell.

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And then there’s this bullshit:

British official: “What is it, then, that attracts you, to the Bedouin?”

Bell: “It is something that you and your world would never understand. It’s their   freedom. it’s their dignity. It’s their poetry of life.”

[music swells]


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What is odd about this is that although the film looks a conventional period piece and middlebrow Oscar fodder, with some nice cinematography, costumes and so on, the director is none other than the utterly unconventional Werner Herzog.

“I believe the common denominator of the Universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility and murder.”

Werner Herzog made a film in the desert.

And nobody died.

Or went mad.

Or threatened to kill him.

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Kidman does her usual noble beauty thing and adopts a posh accent. Damian Lewis sports a moustache as an anguished admirer. Robert Pattinson plays dress-up as T.E. Lawrence. James Franco is there for some snogging.

12 thoughts on “Queen of the Desert (Trailer Review)

  1. I am coming to the conclusion that Nicole Kidman is to be avoided at all costs. I haven’t seen her in a good movie for so long, but her list of turkeys is growing. She was pretty unbeatable in Before I Go To Sleep and her inability to move her face is distracting to say the least. I skipped Australia and Grace so. I think I’ll skip this one too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pattinson looks like he is going to a fancy dress party, and the scenes look stagey and stilted. One to miss, although I generally like Kidman. (Herzog taking the money?)
    HANG ON! They are remaking Secrets In Their Eyes!! Is nothing sacred?
    I need to dwell in a monastery.
    Oh dear…
    Cheers, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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