Sunday, June 4, 2023


February 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Director Werner Herzog, whose Queen of the Desert had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival today (Friday), says that he hopes the film will serve as a partial counterweight to the current “demonization” of the Arab region by politicians and the news media. If the West does not come to a better understanding of the region it risks allowing it to fall into the control of Islamic jihadists, with all that implies, he commented at a news conference following the screening. Ironically, his film explores the life of Gertrude Bell, whom critics are referring to as the female Lawrence of Arabia. Bell, played in Herzog’s film by Nicole Kidman, explored the Arabian peninsula in the early part of the 20th century and eventually became Britain’s diplomatic expert on the Arab states, which she helped carve up out of the old Ottoman empire. Said Herzog at the news conference: “We legitimately have to ask ourselves the question whether the border delineations … have been the best of all worlds. No they have not. But we see the alternative out there. The alternative is materializing and the alternative is no borders and an Islamic State running this as a Caliphate which includes Lebanon and Israel.” For her part, Kidman indicated that she was overwhelmed with the beauty of Morocco, where most of the film was shot, and the warmth of the Bedouin tribes people she encountered. “And being a part of it certainly gives you a strong affinity for [the region].” She also indicated that “being in that landscape certainly helped to infiltrate” her relationship with costar James Franco and enhance their chemistry. Commented Herzog: “When you cast a film, chemistry is everything. … If the chemistry isn’t functioning, you are lost as a director.”