Werner Herzog is probably the only director who could travel to the Antarctic to capture the continent’s beauty and investigate the characters living at the McMurdo Science Station and find a suicidal penguin while he was there. Or who would actually eat a shoe a la Charlie Chaplin to support independent filmmaking. Or get shot during an interview.
He’s also probably the only director who could make something as beautiful as his 2010 film Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a stunning documentary (filmed entirely in 3D) about the 30,000 year old rock paintings at Chauvet.
His latest film, Queen of the Desert, tells the story of Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman), the infamous archaeologist who had a major role in shaping Middle Eastern politics after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The film traces her life from her parents’ failed attempts to marry her off in England to her epic career in the Middle East, where after an affair with embassy secretary Henry Cadogan (James Franco), she sacks off the idea of a private life and picks up as an explorer, archaeologist, novelist and diplomat, earning the trust of dignitaries and chiefs across the region as she goes.
On the way, she meets a young TE Lawrence, and the two are eventually reunited a decade later to advise Britain on how to handle their colonial stake and redraw borders after the First World War.
As it happens, Lawrence and Bell appear in an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to advise young Indy against a life in diplomacy. So for anyone who associates Indy with archaeology, it’s Bell they have to thank!
The Global Heritage Fund UK and NBC Universal are hosting the UK premiere of Queen of the Desert on Friday, 24th April at the NBC Universal headquarters in London in aid of endangered cultural heritage in the war-torn Middle East. Get your tickets to the premiere here!
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