Queen of the Desert
There was real electricity in the air at the screening of Queen of the Desert, and rightly so; for decades audiences around the world have enjoyed the uncompromising brilliance of Werner Herzog’s work. Whispers softened as the lights slowly dulled and the anticipation came to a head for the epic biographical drama with a star-studded cast and an esteemed crew with enough silverware to crowd the largest of living rooms
As always Herzog’s characters are molded by the extreme landscapes that they inhabit, and this film proves no different.
Queen of the Desert tells the story of Gertrude Bell 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.
Bell’s (Nicole Kidman) personal struggles with the confinements of British high society provide some of the most entertaining scenes in the film. It is with her greater journey into the mysterious Middle East to challenge her aspiring intellect and break new frontiers that the film becomes painfully historically accurate. While Herzog should be applauded for his commitment to the story, the effect is at times slightly tedious.
Kidman gives a typically intelligent performance throughout some of the other casting choices are questionable. James Franco plays an upper class English roué whose accent and lines are insincere and unconvincing. Robert Pattinson is tongue-in-cheek as T.E. Lawrence – it’s enjoyable, but he isn’t quite suited to the part.
A cleverly constructed score from Klaus Badelt (Gladiator) reminds you of the caliber of film you are watching but it is not enough to save you from the long, drawn-out dialogue and lack of on-screen intensity.
Though impressive as a historical retelling, Queen of the Desert is missing the cinematic fire of Herzog that keeps audiences coming.
Queen of the Desert does not yet have a UK release date.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2015 visit here.
Watch a clip from Queen of the Desert here: