This is the story of Gertrude Bell, a true original who is sometimes called the “female” Lawrence of Arabia. Bell was the most powerful women in the British Empire in her day, advising on the boundaries of Iraq, and yet she has been written out of history. Film makers Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl set out to correct the record with this documentary about her incredible life and legacy.
The story is told entirely in the words of Bell and her contemporaries, taken from intimate letters, private diaries and official documents. Tilda Swinton narrates as well as produces, and the film chronicles Bell's extraordinary journey into the Arabian desert and Colonial inner sanctum using stunning archive footage which testifies to a vanished time and place. The directors say: "uncovering this trove of archive film, the idea emerged to create a documentary that could have been made in the late 1920s after Bell’s death, a film that would completely immerse the viewer in another time and place." The result is a unique look at both a remarkable woman and the tangled history of Iraq.
Errata: Werner Herzog was also enamoured of Bell's story. He has a drama about her - Queen of the Desert - awaiting a release date.