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188 Ratings

Queen of the Desert

Directed by Werner Herzog
United States, Morocco, 2015
Drama, History, Biography


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.

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Queen of the Desert Directed by Werner Herzog
The first thing to be noted about this splendid film is just how seldom it feels Herzogian… Indeed, stylistically it far more closely resembles several other Nicole Kidman vehicles, such as Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady (1997) and Olivier Dahan’s Grace of Monaco (2014). The connections between the Dahan (which I defended in a previous Bradlands column) and the Herzog are especially striking, since these films, which were made the same year, introduce Kidman in exactly the same way
September 26, 2017
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The film doesn’t have the epic sweep of David Lean’s masterpiece, and the romantic despair bogs down the feminist jolt when we see Bell stand up to those men in the macho Arab world. So atypical of Herzog’s solid style, Queen Of The Desert feels almost woozy, since the hard-edged adventure of Bell is rendered in an inappropriate soft focus.
June 24, 2016
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Queen of the Desert certainly takes liberties with its subject—historian/spy/writer Gertrude Bell, who traveled through the Middle East during the demise of the Ottoman and British Empires and its aftermath—but it’s classical Hollywood cinema done the Werner way, telling its story with brisk efficiency while finding time for romance, humor, a generous dose of macho swagger, and occasional moments of ebullience.
May 05, 2015
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