Herzog must have taken his cue from the 1962 epic adventure drama “Lawrence of Arabia,” which focused on one of Bell’s colleagues T.E. Lawrence, a British officer and leader of an Arab rebellion against the Turks during the war.
Robert Pattinson plays Lawrence in this film, but he’s reduced to a minor character. Instead Bell is the center of attention. She defies authority and goes where no English woman had gone before her. Along the way, she becomes a major player in Middle East politics.
The 1962 epic was known for its sweep and its ability to capture the grandeur of the desert’s ceaseless sands and the nobility and savagery of its inhabitants. Based on the new and lengthy, three-minute trailer, Herzog strived mightily for the same look and feel.
Kidman portrays Bell in almost larger than life terms. She’s fiery, fearless and indefatigable in her support of the Bedouin tribes that inhabit a region that, today, is made up of Iraq, Syria and Jordan.
When asked in one telling scene why she insists on involving herself in regional affairs her answer is poetic.
“What is it that attracts you to the Bedouin?” asks Damian Lewis, who plays Charles Doughty-Wylie, a British war hero who would die tragically at the Battle of Gallipoli, during the war.
“Something you and your world would never understand,” Bell replies. “It’s their freedom; it’s their dignity; it’s their poetry of life.”
Whew! Heavy stuff.
In the movie, Kidman apparently spends a lot of time telling-off British officers, who are constantly trying to rein her in. The movie is also a love story. Bell never married but had lovers, including the the romantic British ambassador Henry Cadogan, played by James Franco.
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