What's on

Sat 3 June

ZZ Letters from Baghdad (PG)

Gertrude Bell gets the documentary she deserves

It is one of the injustices of the universe that the fame of TE Lawrence, AKA Lawrence of Arabia, lives on (probably mostly thanks to David Lean and Peter O’Toole), while far fewer people are familiar with the biography of his contemporary and comrade-in-diplomacy, Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), a character no less colourful, charismatic and compelling than Lawrence.

Getting a niche arthouse release, this finely wrought documentary won’t rectify that imbalance in their respective reputations but it does serve as a handy summary for those who want a cinematic introduction to Bell’s sprawling, singular story. Here, an unseen Tilda Swinton reads extracts from the many elegantly written letters Bell sent while she was finding her feet in the Middle East.

Tilda Swinton reads from the letters of the colourful and charismatic explorer, diplomat and archeologist who, along with TE Lawrence, shaped modern Iraq



Sat 3 June