Franco is lost in the period trappings. Gertrude Bell is one of the most remarkable people (of either sex) to have ever lived...but you wouldn't know it from this film. Unfortunately, it’s given only cursory interest in various one-liners about Bell’s independence or in the simplistically rendered showdowns she has with powerful men, as if that is enough. At times, she’s lit in a way that her blonde hair radiates as if a halo making her seem even more angelic. Movie Reviews TV Reviews Roundtables Podcasts 'Queen of the Desert': Berlin Review ... Queen of the Desert is a pedestrian retelling of an extraordinary life, more often starchy than stirring. That this love story, which consumes much of the beginning of the film, is meant to be a crucial part of Bell’s characterization is laughable. You will also want to read a book about Gertrude Bell and about the Middle East after watching ... ideally visit there as well although most places (Syria, Iraq, Iran) are too dangerous to travel to. Her parents apparently even opened her mail to ensure that she was not being led astray. She went on to scale the Matterhorn in 1904. But instead of heightening Kidman’s qualities—her luminescence, chilliness, and finely wrought emotional intelligence—“Queen of the Desert” flattens these traits. Queen of the Desert starts hilariously, and not quite on purpose. At times, she’s lit in a way that her blonde hair radiates as if a halo making her seem even more angelic. Archaeologist, mountain climber, poet, translator, linguist, explorer, diplomat, spy, (to name just a handful of her many accomplishments) and all in a time in which women were virtually prohibited from doing any of those things, for the most part, and in territories that even men of the time feared to tread. It’s difficult not to feel like the way the industry has treated Queen of the Desert is just continuing the outrageous erasure of Bell from pop-culture consciousness. This movie will leave you blissful and hopeful after watching it so beautiful. She’s quickly shipped off to relatives in Tehran in the hope she’ll find some satisfaction. "Queen of the Desert" is so focused on Bell's romantic life that it fails to develop anything else about her. A visionary feast and both Nicole Kidman and James Franco's acting is superb.Most critics didn't give it a thumbs up but for me it was a beautiful film, maybe because the lead was a woman who changed the course of history! She’s a vision of perfection. This is a very beautiful story, the rating should be at least 9 stars. On paper, this seems like the perfect role for Kidman, a typically resplendent and magnetic performer. Historically it was dreadful (starting in 1914 and then "going back" 12 years - by my simply maths this is 1902 - to have a toast to Queen Victoria by an embassy official is nonsense since she had died in 1901!) Some very vague spoilers ( I really tried not to say anything that one does not know, if you know something about G.Bell's life). Starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis, Robert Pattinson, … She’s a vision of perfection. Queen of the Desert has the note of a travelogue about it -- that is to say, it feels well-travelled, but not well-lived. In one of his books, he described him as completely clueless, arrogant and as a ruthless, dumb and incompetent creep. | Along the way you'll also run into a gritty dropout Lawrence of Arabia who comes on like a skateboarder in drag and a bungling caricature of Winston Churchill falling all over himself as he attempts to mount a camel worried mainly about his lit cigar that got dumped in the process. People are drawn to these kinds of stories not to see beautiful recreations of facts they can look up on Wikipedia but to take an intimate view on the human beings that made history. By David Duprey On Apr 13, 2017. She mixed in the best society being very well connected socially, and also enjoyed the company of many intellectuals of the day. Currently, women’s ambition is at a premium. Born in Victorian England when a female’s purpose in life was to find a husband and raise a family, Bell broke all stereotypes. This is the man that has her so undone after seeming so sure of her own independence? It takes more than a sweeping score, beautiful cinematography, and drawn out narrative to make an engaging star vehicle. In forming such a reverential biopic the humanity of these characters and Herzog's own wildness are whittled away, leaving the mere husk of a more interesting story behind. Tactile a full of beauty, Kidman's representation of Bell is simple and her prose lingers in your mind once the film has ended. External Reviews Even the stodgiest biopic would be redeemed by Herzog’s eye. Queen of the Desert captures how bold Bell was to travel around the Middle East by herself at the turn of the century. Yes, she fell in love with Henry Cadogan and mourned his death for seven years. You will be glad you spent two hours watching this movie, preferably with you significant other or a friend, as you will want to talk to somebody about it. She garners their respect and admiration in turn for reasons the film never seeks to explore with much depth. The lugubrious voiceover provides no deeper understanding of Bell. This is again a cheap movie they serve us. What drew her to specifically travel this part of the world? It includes strong suggestiveness and is very graphic. I watched it twice. A marvelous tale of an adventurous life of great historical import. How did she reckon with being so blindingly ambitious in a time in which the exact opposite was encouraged in women of her stature? 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. Queen of the Desert breaks form with several other Herzog movies: A female lead character, a grand Hollywood-like production and most interesting: a different perspective on the culture-nature dichotomy and the effects of cultural distance that almost forms the core of Herzog's work. Her exploits at the beginning of the 20th century helped cast a favorite light on Bedouins and Druses as she moved among them and helped negotiate the end-of-WWI land split in Arabia and environs. Times, Vulture, The Atlantic, and The Village Voice. I stared in disbelief as Nicole Kidman entered and I was expected to believe she was a young maybe early 20's woman. Her simpering sugary overly acted "love" affair with Franco made me gag on it's sugary soft spoken sweetness and Franco always looked like he was about to turn to the camera and say, just joking wah wah wah. The decision to focus on Bell’s romantic life as the core of the story could be more worthwhile if any characters had a psychological richness to them. It’s seen in the marketing of brands, the recently erected bronze “Fearless Girl” statue in Wall Street, and explored in recent works like "Big Little Lies." Most reviewers missed the mark on this one, although in a commercial sense it probably won't be successful because it will fly over the heads of typical audiences, especially in the U.S. For anyone who doesn't know anything about the middle east should see it just for history and Gertrude Bells significance in history.... For quite a while I kept wondering if Herzog is able to make at least one good movie without Klaus Kinski. Lots of desert scenes which seemed more Hollywood cute than a sweaty gritty actual depiction. "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). But perfection isn’t interesting in a biopic such as this; it’s a death knell. Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert is the least Herzogian film of his career. This a movie that elevates the spirit and expands your horizons. 7.75 of 10. Online reviewers have written 643 reviews, giving The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) an average rating of 76%. Angelica Jade Bastién is a Chicago based critic and essayist. It isn't quite enough, though. Hey Theatre Fam, We are heading out to the New Wimbledon Theatre to see the new UK Tour of PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT! Quite enjoyable if you don't know your history and have not read the book 'Desert Queen'. Yes, she was born to a wealthy family, had a brilliant mind, earned a first class degree at Oxford - even attending Oxford was a rarity for a woman at that time. For Bell it, comes across as both, given what’s sacrificed at the altar of her pursuit of, intellectual and professional desires. Based on the true story of Gertrude Bell, it brings history to life, even though it could have used a replacement for Nicole Kidman playing Gertrude as a young woman. If anything, it makes her seem like even more of cipher. See Fantastic sandune-scapes and the prettiest camels ever screened to fill out this vast portrait of the Middle East in World War I when the lines in the sand were drawn which stake out today's Arab Spring Nightmare. The narrative tracks her life and travels leading up to her collaboration with Winston Churchill (Christopher Fulford) in mapping the borders of Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Insightful film into why the Middle East is structured as it is. Jules Goes to Therapy in Her Own Special Episode of Euphoria, HBO's Painting with John is a Magnetic Celebration of Arts and Artists, The Nostalgia of Epix's Bridge and Tunnel is Filled with Wrong Turns, The Sister Sacrifices Logic, Tension as Its Twists Unravel. Instead I was left with questions. It’s a worthwhile subject matter to explore. It was as though Werner Herzog had suddenly become a pupil of Josh Boone, which is like Mozart taking lessons from Justin Bieber. “Queen of the Desert” demonstrates how staid a biopic can become when it forgets the icons at its center were also once human beings teeming with dreams, sins yearnings and contradictions. But it is not a work of genius--not because it isn't great but because Herzog failed to dumb it down for average movie-going audiences. I love her don't get me wrong, but that was beyond any sense of reality. More than anything they require a strong personality and point of view from both director and star, which is regrettably in short supply here. For a movie with so much heart, “Queen of the Desert” is a remarkably bloodless enterprise. 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. Rated PG-13 W erner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert typifies the hypocrisy of female-centric narratives that nevertheless define women in relation to their men, only by the latter’s absence rather than presence. Her dutiful devotion and love for her parents may have caused her later infatuations and unrequited love for the wrong men. Capturing the complexity of a desert past, The More the World Changes, the More the Middle East Remains the Same. This film was an attractive costume drama which would not have been out of place on Masterpiece Theater, but anyone familiar with Gertrude Bell's achievements and who has read the book 'Desert Queen', will be disappointed at how much was left out. Captivating music enhances your experience. Although it's not Lawrence of Arabia, and Robert Pattinson suffers from O'Toole comparison, director Werner Herzog still brings to life the hitherto little-known heroine, Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman). An admirable, serious trudge through the historical biopic territory, here focused on Gertrude Bell. Apparently, when her nanny tried to put her in a dress she pushed the woman away and proudly exclaimed “On my own!” Bell is quickly established as an impetuous, headstrong, and intelligent woman, disregarding social mores at every turn. International upheaval, as viewed from the intimate vantage point of a historical figure as enchanting and modern feeling as Bell, gives the filmmakers a variety of avenues to explore. A Remarkable Human, a Remarkable Life, Too Bad Hollywood Ruined It, About as Bland and Lifeless As You Can Get. | Thank you to the film crew for bringing this beautiful film to us, much appreciated! PG-13. Hence for many it will come across as a stock, even boring, romantic adventure drama. Made me want to know more about the history. She has been called the female Lawrence of Arabia, which, while not inaccurate, fails to give Gertrude Bell her due. Kinski loathed Herzog. It’s clear Herzog is trying to craft “Queen of the Desert” within the lineage of the traditional star vehicle. Obviously the director of this movie does not understand the context of the middle east and he is taking this part of the world as a bulk and treating it as a whole. It’s a worthwhile subject matter to, explore. 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