The first trailer for Werner Herzog’s ‘Queen of the Desert’ has arrived with Nicole Kidman as the title character and Robert Pattinson as Lawrence of Arabia and James Franco as Henry Cadogan in the biopic chronicling the life of Gertrude Belle, the highly influential British writer, traveler, archeologist, spy and political figure of the early 20th century.
The highly anticipated movie directed by legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, but for the rest of the world, it’s the first glimpse. Gertrude Bell’s colorful life has long cried out for the big screen, and it is Oscar winning actress Nicole Kidman tasked with bringing her to life nearly a century after her death.
To say Bell was a multi-hyphenate is an understatement. It’s almost a question of what she did not do as a part of the dramatically unfolding history of the latter days of the Ottoman and British Empires in World War I. Some have dubbed her the female Lawrence of Arabia but that does neither historical figure justice, as we may as well call him the male Gertrude Bell if we’re going to get reductionistic.
And in the trailer we get but a glimpse of the scope of history unfolding as Kidman’s Bell finds a strong affinity for desert and the culture of the Middle East, and we hear her telling someone what appeals to her about the people and she says, “Their poetry, their freedom.” She herself finds freedom from the strictures of gender as some of the scenes in the trailer reveal. As noted, James Franco portrays British army officer and diplomat Henry Cadogan and it is he, not T.E. Lawrence, who is Bell’s lover in the movie.
And speaking of, it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Peter O’Toole in the role of the British officer and scholar T.E. Lawrence, more widely known as Lawrence of Arabia. For many his legendary performance has overshadowed the real-life figure he was portraying who led the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Empire. That ups the ante for the former ‘Twilight Saga’ Robert Pattinson who is already trying to shake off the iconic role of the vampire Edward Cullen, or at least one that’s indelible in pop culture if “iconic” is too much of a stretch. Whether Pattinson has succeeded in bringing a convincing Lawrence of Arabia to the big screen will no doubt be debated.
Nicole Kidman has less of a battle in convincing us, and as seen in the trailer, she projects Bell’s uncompromising intensity and intelligence which even in this era of pervasive sexism might draw notice as not being quite ladylike. We hear one of the characters warning her not to scare away James Franco’s Cadogan with her intelligence.
Costars in the movie include Damian Lewis as British Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie and Christopher Fulford as Winston Churchill.
The movie will open in theaters on September 15th. For now, the first trailer for ‘Queen of the Desert’ is below!
Pictures: PR Photos