Most helpful customer reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful.
By David M. Robinson
This film focuses on 2 failed love affairs and not on the world changing career of this extraordinary woman. Her incredible work re-organizing the search for the dead , wounded and captured on the Western Front is completely ingnored; her work in what is now Iraq, her amazing subtlety in her dealings with the government of India is ignored; her massive contributions in military intelligence, social intelligence, diplomatic intelligence is wept aside; T.E.Lawrence is portrayed as a limp and passive observer. I'm astonished that a film maker as gifted has Herzog can have made this Mickey Mouse movie.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
Great Photography, Sense of Intrigue, Emotion
By M. Miller
The Photography in desert scenes and the sense of intrigue are very good in this movie. Overall this movie made me wonder about the uniqueness of Gertrude Bell, and drove me to read more about her. That along with the photography (especially the desert scenes), sense of intrigue, and matters of the heart, are what made me give this movie a 5-star rating.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful. See all 106 customer reviews...
A profound disappointment…
By John P. Jones III
I’ve been an immense fan of the movies of Werner Herzog, commencing in the ‘70’s, when I would routinely see them at the one “art” theater in Atlanta. Recently, I’ve been most impressed with Happy People: A Year in the Taiga and Encounters at the End of the World, both of which I have reviewed on Amazon. So, when I saw Herzog’s latest work on one of the most remarkable women of the 20th century, Gertrude Bell, it went on the “immediate must see” list.
Ugh, and ugh again. It is a profound disappointment, one of those schmaltzy Hollywood love stories of both star-crossed and unrequited love. I was not familiar with the actress Nicole Kidman, who played Bell. It seemed to be an inappropriate casting. I certainly did not obtain a sense from Kidman of the real Bell who roamed the desert as a woman accompanied by only a few natives, and would successfully operate in a “man’s world” by negotiating with the leader of the Druze as well as the Rashids’ in Hail, in what would become part of Saudi Arabia.
The Director, if it was Herzog, depicted Bell at a big soiree in her grand home in England. Yes, she was from a very wealthy family, so that is fair. But where was the woman who literally blazed new climbing trails in the Alps BEFORE she went to Tehran to meet the love of her life? Not depicted at all. And where was the sense of the woman who wrote The Desert and the Sown: The Syrian Adventures of the Female Lawrence of Arabia, and could write lines like: "To wake in that desert dawn was like waking in the heart of an opal..." Now that is a woman who has LIVED in the desert, and loved it.
In terms of historical accuracy, there seemed to be a number of real clunkers. In scenes set in 1906, the characters display this foreknowledge that there will be a World War when at the time, virtually everyone thought that would be an impossibility. There were a couple depictions of Churchill, one at the pyramids that did not seem plausible, and even if it really happened, seems so irrelevant to the drama of this amazing woman. But the worst faux pas was when Bell returns from Hail, and races off to meet her married lover, of their purportedly unconsummated relationship, Major Charles Doughty-Wylie, who is standing in the souks, in full British military uniform, in DAMASCUS. At the time, of course, Damascus was very much part of the Ottoman Empire, which was at war with the British Empire. It would take Allenby until 1918 to actually enter Damascus with British and allied forces.
The movie did contain a scene depicting one of her most significant achievements – along with the unmentioned Percy Cox, of creating the Kingdoms of Jordan and Iraq, one each, for the sons of Hussain, of Mecca, the loser in the struggle for the Arabian peninsula, with Ibn Saud. And it was also a serious problem that continues to haunt us today.
Admittedly I am a sucker for well-filmed desert scenery, and there was that, with the movie being filmed in Jordan and Morocco, and therefore I am willing to add an extra star to my rating. As for Herzog vision, voice and insights, they were completely missing from the movie, so I hope that he simply loaned his name to the film, for whatever reason. Overall, 2-stars.