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Queen of the Desert

              review Bobby Blakey  

I enjoy films that focus on real life people that have done extraordinary things, especially those we have heard little about. Famed director Wernor Herzog’s latest film Queen of the Desert starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis, Robert Pattinson, and Jay Abdo looks to do just that, but does it offer up an interesting story that does this woman justice or will it get lost in the desert?

Queen of the Desert follows Gertrude Bell who chafes against the stifling rigidity of life in turn-of-the-century England, leaving it behind for a chance to travel to Tehran. So begins her lifelong adventure across the Arab world, a journey marked by danger, a passionate affair with a British officer, and an encounter with the legendary T.E. Lawrence. Stunningly shot on location in Morocco and Jordan, Queen of the Desert reveals how an ahead-of-her-time woman shaped the course of history. From the moment this film started struggled to stick with it. I am not sure if it was the story or the overall feel of it all, but it just never was able to resonate with me. As the film played out the story moved so slowly at times that I lost interest pretty quickly and it was never able to bring me back.

The cast all do a good job and the material should have been really engaging but the lack of focus and often jumbled direction just never gave it or Gertrude Bell the powerfulness it deserved. I found myself never able to really care all that much about everything she did throughout her journey which was a shame as she did so much for that part of the world. I found moments of the film that I somehow completely missed that I can only think it was because of lack of interest by the time it got there. It seemed like the focus of the film was fragmented trying to cover too much instead of just letting the audience experience what she did for these areas of the country.

The ending of the film offered up the usual factual recap of what they did and where their life went and manages to be the most interesting part of the entire film. I got more out of this few minutes of reading through each character than I did from the rest of the entire film which is good from an information standpoint, but not so much for the film itself.       

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