Queen of the Desert (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

Queen of the Desert (2017)



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Critic Consensus: Queen of the Desert unites some undeniably talented professionals, but it's difficult to discern what drew them together -- or understand how its compelling real-life story became such a muddled mess.

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Movie Info

A true story of the life of British explorer and adventurer, Gertrude Bell, QUEEN OF THE DESERT chronicles her journeys of love and loss in the Middle East during the early 20th century. Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman (THE PAPERBOY, RABBIT HOLE, AUSTRALIA, THE HOURS) stars alongside Academy Award nominated James Franco (SPRING BREAKERS, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, 127 HOURS), Golden Globe & Emmy Award winner Damian Lewis ("Homeland", KEANE, "Band of Brothers"), and Robert Pattinson (THE ROVER, MAPS TO THE STARS, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS) . A curious and adventurous young woman eager to explore the world outside of England, Gertrude Bell (Kidman) goes to the British embassy in Tehran where she quickly falls in love with a secretary of the embassy, Henry Cadogan (Franco). This sparks the beginning of a life-long adventure among the beautiful but misunderstood peoples and cultures of the Middle East. Along the way, her path intersects with archaeologist T.E. Lawrence (Pattinson) also known as Lawrence of Arabia, and Major Charles Doughty-Wylie (Lewis), the British Consul General in the Ottoman Empire. QUEEN OF THE DESERT is written and directed by Werner Herzog. The film is produced by Michael Benaroya (LAWLESS, THE WORDS, MARGIN CALL), Cassian Elwes (ALL IS LOST, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, BLUE VALENTINE), and Nick Raslan (HAPPY PEOPLE: A YEAR IN THE TAIGA, RESCUE DAWN). The creative team includes long-time collaborator of Herzog director of photography Peter Zeitlinger (BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS) and composer Klaus Badelt (HALO: NIGHTFALL, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, CONSTANTINE, GLADIATOR). The story of QUEEN OF THE DESERT is based on the true-life story of Gertrude Bell, who was a British political officer and archaeologist but ultimately a trailblazer on her terms. The story details the extraordinary adventures of Bell wrestling with the conflicts of love and tragedy, enemy and friend, and foreign and familiar as she sought to understand and unify people from different cultures.


Nicole Kidman
as Gertrude Bell
James Franco
as Henry Cadogan
Damian Lewis
as Richard Doughty-Wylie
Robert Pattinson
as T. E. Lawrence
Jay Abdo
as Fattuh
Jenny Agutter
as Florence Bell
David Calder
as Sir Hugh Bell
Christopher Fulford
as Winston Churchill
Holly Earl
as Florence Lascelles
Mark Lewis Jones
as Sir Frank Lascelles
Beth Goddard
as Mary Lascelles
Sophie Linfield
as Judith Doughty-Wylie
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Critic Reviews for Queen of the Desert

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (4)

A stunning misfire.

July 23, 2015 | Rating: D- | Full Review…
Top Critic

Given the intrigues and even political insights that a serious, fully committed treatment of Bell's life might have resulted in, it's a shame her years in the land she loved are apparently reducible to ill-fated investments in two bland, charmless men.

February 7, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A passionless trudge that lacks both sweep and psychological complexity.

February 6, 2015 | Full Review…
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

In the end, it's not clear what's driving Bell, nor what's holding her back.

February 6, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Atypical of Herzog's solid style, Queen Of The Desert feels almost woozy, since the hard-edged adventure of Bell is rendered in an inappropriate soft focus.

June 23, 2016 | Full Review…
Bangkok Post

For moviegoers looking to lose themselves in an old-school epic, Queen Of The Desert certainly fits the bill. But as a celebration of the life of a feminist pioneer, the film is sorely lacking.

June 9, 2016 | Full Review…
Daily Telegraph (Australia)

Audience Reviews for Queen of the Desert


A frustrating biopic that lacks in consistency and real sense of purpose or direction, as it remains unfortunately nothing more than a reverential story that suffers even more from a complete absence of chemistry between Gertrude/Kidman and both her lovers.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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