Letters from Baghdad tells the extraordinary and dramatic story of Gertrude Bell, the most powerful woman in the British Empire in her day.

Golsa Sarabi

Review by Golsa Sarbari – Actor – Producer

It is an important journey in order to a better understanding of the middle-east today.

The true story of Gertrude Bell’s life and her journey to the middle east and Iraq, is a documentary that has been directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum.

Bell was born in a wealthy British family in 1868, and was an avid traveler from an early age.

This documentary looks at her time in the middle east during the early 20th century and her role in drawing the modern borders of Iraq. These borders for the United States and other countries have seen wars and a good deal of blood shed to maintain and defend.

Bell is the architect of the troubles of the modern middle east — she drew the borders of Iraq, for one thing, and insisted on Kurdistan remaining within those borders —

The movie directors asked Tilda Swinton to read Bell’s letters in creating the film as if it was made after Bell’s death in 1926! One of the most crucial factors that has added to the beauty of this movie to make it even more interesting for the audience to follow Bell’s journey, was the impact of Tilda’s voice! The ups and downs, and the way that Tilda was expressing her emotions through the voice, was absolutely phenomena!

Bell was a skilled photographer and her pictures are a big part of the documentary, and they’re a reflection of her visual acuity.

One of the most interesting pictures a photographer had taken, was in front of the pyramids of Giza, featuring a smiling Bell sitting between Lawrence and a sunglasses-wearing Winston Churchill on camels.

There is a great deal of historical information here, that is of high interest, and Ms. Swinton’s performance of Bell’s letters, convey Bell’s depth as a writer.

Gertrude Bell was an explorer, an adventurer and a British spy, who is often dubbed the female “Lawrence of Arabia”. Some contend that she was more influential than her friend and colleague T. E. Lawrence.

“Letters from Baghdad” is the directorial debut of Sabine Krayenbuhl and Zeva Oelbaum, the documentary that brings to life, a powerful woman’s journey who was stunningly ahead of her time. The beauty of this movie and Bell’s journey is that you see different sides of her. The fact that they’ve started the movie with Bell as being a little girl and showing her childhood, to when she grew up, and traveled to the middle east, and her love stories alongside her political life, made the movie much more interesting and extraordinary!

One of the most visually beautiful documentaries ever, that is a powerful portrait of a forgotten woman, who helped to shape a political history.

Gertrude Bell has helped to shape the world today in a way that no one else, male or female did, and understanding what she did is absolutely essential for understanding the world today.




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