Queen of the Desert Friday, 10 April 2020

Queen of the Desert

Additional Info

  • Rating:

    M: Mature themes.

  • The pitch:

    Mine eyes are wet.

  • Starring:

    Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis, Jenny Agutter, Holly Earl, Beth Goddard, Mark Lewis Jones, Christopher Fulford, Jay Abdo

  • Directed by:

    Werner Herzog

  • Running time:

    128 minutes

  • Rated:

    M (Australia), NR (UK), PG-13 (USA)


    People are shot in the arm (non-life threatening), held against their will, knocked over. Shots fired into the air. Armed men. A glass is dropped/smashed. Shooting animals, hunting party, they kill every man/woman/child they encounter, stealing, falsed credentials, murder, assassination, rather put a bullet in my head than live without you, suicide threats, re-enlistment, war, Gallipoli mentioned. Forged documents. Raised voices. Blood/gore: Bloody wound/clothing. Animal bones/carrion. Animals hanging/cooking in bazaar. Animal head offering. Arm in sling. Broken ankle, drops of blood, 30000 men lost at Gallipoli mentioned.


    Kissing, flirting. Woman bathing (outline of breasts/nipples seen beneath clothing). Cleavage. Infidelity. Fornication proposed. Elope, drunken orgies, eunuchs, harem mentioned.


    Alcohol (wine, champagne, spirits). Smoking (cigar, cigarettes). Camel racing.


    A-word, bastard, b*tch, bloody, pee, fart. Name-calling. Religious references and exclamations (dear God, Lord Almighty, prayer, etc). Misogyny (period chauvinism). Derogatory comments about Jews, Arabs, French, Germans, women.


    Gertrude Lowthian Bell, exploration, love, heartbreak, tribal politics, Bedouin, the British Empire, society, intelligence, World War I, travel, writing, cartography, archeology, conviction, rejection, poetry, grief, diary-keeping, infidelity.


    Dead lovers. Marriage proposal. Camels, horses, sheep, hawks, falcons, vulture, caged chicken, deer, swans, lion cubs, goats, donkeys. Animal carcasses/heads hanging (bazaar). Fear of horses, riding on goatskins, widow mentioned. Some written Farsi (translated). Some Arabic.


    Compelling, long-overdue, pretty, watchable, grown-up, respectable, historical, competent. Charming performance by James Franco, delicate/determined/expressive performance by Nicole Kidman, giddy/old-fashioned kissing scene, extravagant/magnificent locations, valorizing widescreen cinematography, hagiographic/orchestral/swelling score.


    Episodic, syrupy, cringe-inducing, banal, solemn, disappointing, plodding, literal, flat, passionless, prosaic, pedestrian, starchy, un-Werner Herzog. Underpowered/understated narrative, long/dry passages, regrettable dialogue, odd/cheesy accents, some historical inaccuracy, lacks dramatic conflict/psychiatric intensity, Robert Pattison is hysterically miscast, Kidman is too Hollwood-perfect, dishonours Bell's rule-disregarding nature by focusing on her love life.

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