Werner Herzog’s last actual drama was way back in 2009 with My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, a thriller that is (literally) miles away from his latest. Queen of the Desert is a historical biopic on the life of Gertrude Bell, a British adventurer and scientist who explored the Middle East at the dawn of the 20th Century.
Nicole Kidman plays Bell in what looks to be an award-caliber performance, alongside James Franco, Damian Lewis, and Robert Pattinson channeling his best Peter O’Toole impression as T.E. Lawrence, AKA Lawrence of Arabia. The first trailer for the film has been released following its World Premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, where early reviews were notably rough (a dismal 38 on Metacritic), even for a Herzog movie.
Queen of the Desert opens September 3 in Germany and is expected to have a 2015 US release date, though none has been announced yet. Check out the synopsis, first international trailer and poster below:
The film tells the story of Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) 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. As an educated young woman, for whom no suitable husband can be found in England, she journeys to Tehran. After a tragic love affair with diplomat and inveterate gambler Henry Cadogan, she decides to give up on her private life and discover the region as an explorer. Before the backdrop of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire she learns languages, translates literature, meets with Muslim dignitaries in Cairo, Basra and Baghdad and earns their trust through her pluck and respect. Predestined to be a mediator between the Orient and the British Empire, she contributes to defining the new borders in the region after the First World War. And then love enters her life once again. Werner Herzog uses the vast desert landscapes to depict the architecture of his characters’ souls. A panoramic epic about the woman who has gone down in history as ‘the female Lawrence of Arabia’