The trailer for the Gertrude Bell biopic Queen of the Desert has been unveiled. From award winning director Werner Herzog, the movie stars Nicole Kidman as the ground breaking pioneer nicknamed ‘the female Lawrence of Arabia. Bell was a female way ahead of her time who chose to explore the middle east in the 1920’s, and Indiewire have obtained the official synopsis for her biopic.
“The film tells the story of Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) who, as historian, novelist and member of the British secret service, played a decisive role around 1920 in setting the course for the new political order in the Middle East. As an educated young woman, for whom no suitable husband can be found in England, she journeys to Tehran. After a tragic love affair with diplomat and inveterate gambler Henry Cadogan, she decides to give up on her private life and discover the region as an explorer.
Before the backdrop of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire she learns languages, translates literature, meets with Muslim dignitaries in Cairo, Basra and Baghdad and earns their trust through her pluck and respect. Predestined to be a mediator between the Orient and the British Empire, she contributes to defining the new borders in the region after the First World War. And then love enters her life once again. Werner Herzog uses the vast desert landscapes to depict the architecture of his characters’ souls. A panoramic epic about the woman who has gone down in history as ‘the female Lawrence of Arabia”.
Watching the trailer, it is clear Kidman relishes her role, she is luminous against the historical desert landscapes and you can see Herzog filmed his muse admiringly, showcasing her beauty and talent. It comes across as perhaps overtly sentimental, the movie focuses heavily on the love affairs of Bell as much as her achievements in life, and that gives the action seen here, a certain rose tinted glow that does a slight injustice to the story of this amazing woman.
James Franco, Robert Pattinson and Damian Lewis play the men in her life, the diplomat, a writer and her consul, each equally captivated with her according to the scenes seen here. After showing at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, reviews of the feature were not particularly favourable, with critics expecting more from the acclaimed director. This promises to be a beautifully filmed romantic epic if nothing else. Watch the trailer for yourselves below or here.