Queen of the Desert UPDATE: Coming to IFC Spring 2017

imageedit_37_8702110920 We’ve just learned that IFC films has acquired the U.S. rights to Queen of the Desert. We’ll finally be able to see it when IFC releases the film in Spring 2017! On the occasion of this great news, let’s revisit what I’ve written about the film so far.

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Queen of the Desert at AFI Fest, Los Angeles

imageedit_37_8702110920On the occasion of a screening of Queen of the Desert at AFI Fest in Los Angeles on November 8, my post this week will be a mash-up of what I’ve written about the film so far.

Truth be told, Queen of the Desert has had, at best, mixed reviews everywhere it’s been screened. All signs point to the film being a rather conventionally shot story of West meets East. The muted palette with which it’s filmed lends it the feeling of a world seen through a thin layer of dust. Yet while we feel the heat rise off the sand, it seems we’re also at a cold remove from the characters. Perhaps this is one of the biggest critiques of the film: that the layers of dust don’t really let us into the character’s hearts. For his part, Damian Lewis in the part of Charles Doughty-Wylie (Richard) certainly does try to convey the contents of his heart in his scenes with Nicole Kidman as Gertrude Bell.

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A Horse by any other Name …

damian lewis charles doughty wylie queen of the desert nicole kidman gertrude bell
source: QueenFilmFan and koenigin-der-wueste.de

In light of upcoming international releases for Queen of the Desert, allow me to take you on a visual trip into some screenshots from German clips and “fotos” released from the official German site for the film. No word yet on when we can see this large-scale saga on our screens in the U.S. Reviews abroad, so far, have been mixed, some going so far as to say that with such a conventional romantic epic, Herzog has stepped perilously far from the avant-garde aesthetic which has defined his work to date. Needless to say, one of the preeminent directors of our time certainly took a chance with this enterprise. But, what’s the value of achieving preeminence if not to be given a license to take chances every now and then? One thing is certain from the trailers and clips we’ve seen: the actors involved in this project have given it their all. I’ll, of course, focus here on Damian’s work in this film, picking apart the few glimpses we’ve seen so far.

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Damian Lewis is Charles Doughty-Wylie in Queen of the Desert


By now, you all know that one of the highly anticipated Damian Lewis projects this year is Queen of the Desert, directed by celebrated director Werner Herzog and starring Nicole Kidman, Damian Lewis, Robert Pattinson and James Franco. The movie had its World Premiere at Berlinale 2015 and will be coming to the US movie theaters in winter 2015 according to the official movie website.

Queen of the Desert is essentially a biopic of Gertrude Bell, a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, political attaché and a spy for the British Empire in the Middle East in the early 20th century. She shaped the politics of the Middle East and drew up the borders of modern Jordan as well as Iraq. Think of more or less  a female Lawrence of Arabia.

source: Vogue
source: Vogue

Nicole Kidman stars as Gertrude Bell, and Damian Lewis takes on the role of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie, who is considered to be the love of Bell’s life. He was married, and the two had a romantic, yet unconsummated relationship; they exchanged love letters between 1913-15 until his death. Continue reading “Damian Lewis is Charles Doughty-Wylie in Queen of the Desert”

Actors and Hope for Humankind: Damian Lewis and Nicole Kidman

Damianista and I are always batting around the idea of serendipity: Our mutual love of finding gems in places where we weren’t looking for them, and then making luck where we find it. We also have a way of finishing each other’s thoughts or typing the same ideas or observations at the same time. That’s probably more happy coincidence than serendipity, but, in either case, it’s a welcome sign of working with someone who is sympatico: that not exactly rare but always welcome thing of having a working relationship with a kindred spirit.

Whether it’s serendipity or a happy coincidence or good old fashioned brilliance in casting that Nicole Kidman and Damian Lewis got to work together in Queen of the Desert, the more revealed about this film and this team of actors, the more anxious we become to see it all played out on screen. Reading Vogue’s article on Nicole Kidman revealed bits about her approach to her art that bear an uncanny resemblance to another fine actor we all know and love, Damian Lewis. Nicole Kidman’s spread in Vogue replete with pics from Queen of the Desert whets my appetite even more.

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