Film Review – Queen of the Desert (2015)


Title – Queen of the Desert (2015)

Director – Wernor Herzog (Grizzly Man)

Cast – Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis

Plot – The life and times of British explorer Gertrude Bell (Kidman) and her boundary pushing travels through the early 20th century that would lay the groundwork for countries to this very day.

“She is the maker of kings”

Review by Eddie on 12/12/2016

Poor old Nicole Kidman.

Once the darling actress that all Australians seemed to feign over and an in demand actress of Hollywood, the one-time Oscar winning starlet has over what seems like an endless period been the victim of poor choice, unfortunate circumstances and just generally an actress that’s had a truck load of terrible films.

Since 2005 Kidman has put her name to films that include, Bewitched, The Invasion, The Golden Compass, Australia, Nine, Just Go With It, Trespass, Grace of Monaco, Before I Go to Sleep, Strangerland and now Wernor Herzog’s boorish dusty slog Queen of the Desert and while in that period Kidman’s had a few wins with arthouse films like Rabbit Hole, Margot at the Wedding and The Family Fang, it’s likely that this past decade will be remembered as an extremely disappointing and forgettable period for the actress.

Queen of the Desert continues on a trend that seems to suggest Kidman is seeking prestige but finding the forgettable and this truly uninvolving Herzog picture that seeks to paint a picture of renowned British traveller, writer and political advisor Gertrude Bell but ends up painting nothing much at all other than a few nice wind swept landscapes with camels in it.

Bell’s life was renowned for her exploration and interaction in with the natives of Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia in the early 20th century but we’re never really given anything to lay hold on in these respects, rather some uninteresting romances with James Franco’s charmless Henry Cadogan, Damian Lewis’s bland British soldier Charles Doughty-Wylie and social interactions with Robert Pattinson’s blankly expressed Col. T.E. Lawrence.

It’s one of Herzog’s most lifeless and straight forward films and a big letdown to all his fans who either appreciate the great documentarian’s insightful offerings or his bizarre yet memorable feature films like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done or of course Fitzcarraldo.

A real non-event that perhaps was once thought of as a possible awards player, this box office and critical dud that has become the sad norm of Nicole Kidman’s career is a film that gives very little justice to the incredible life and times of Gertrude Bell and very little justice to the unique filmmaking talent that is Wernor Herzog.

1 wind swept desert dune out of 5

5 responses to “Film Review – Queen of the Desert (2015)

  1. It sounds like the film had a ton of potential. I wonder what went wrong during production. Having Pattinson as Lawrence was an absurd decision, I think Daniel Craig would have been better. Having Lawrence at all in the film, which was absolutely necessary, leads to inevitable and admittedly unfair comparison to Peter O’Toole’s performance. I wrote my senior thesis on Mark Sykes, so I’m well familiar with the setting and his employee Bell would make a great film subject.

  2. Neither Golden Compass nor Before I Go To Sleep were terrible films, tho I wouldn’t call either of them good. The last good film I can remember Kidman in was The Others, a nice little horror film in the vein of The Sixth Sense. Dramas are always tough to like for me. They are the literary novels of the movie world. Every once in a while, one will come along that isn’t entirely awful, like The King’s Speech.

    • Yeh I think the problem with her is some of her films if not most of them aren’t totally bad but there so middle of the road it hurts then she seems to have more failures than successes which really hurts.

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