T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia
"Gertrude Bell (knew) more about Arabs and Arabia than almost any other living Englishman or woman."
–Lord Cromer, British Consul General in Egypt
CAIRO CONFERENCE, March 12th – 30th, 1921
“The truth is that I am in a minority of one in the Mesopotamian political service, yet I am so sure that I am right that I would go to the stake for it.” –Gertrude Bell
Kingmaker is a historical drama in the tradition of Lawrence of Arabia and was a Top-3 Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition from over 7,000 submissions and a Quarterfinalist in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.
As the world teeters on the brink of World War I, globe-trotting adventurer and Arabist Gertrude Bell (46) finds herself at a crossroads. Having just returned to England from her latest solo trek across the Arabian desert, Oxford educated Gertrude is recruited by British Military Intelligence to help turn the tide of the struggling Mesopotamian Campaign through her personal relationships with the Arab tribes. Gertrude feels pressure to stay close to her father, Sir Hugh Bell, but the need to prove herself worthy of his approval compels Gertrude to join the war effort. Like her friend, T.E. Lawrence (27), Gertrude believes in Arab self-rule, and she excitedly heads to Basra to help her beloved Arabs free themselves from Ottoman rule. But Gertrude quickly finds herself the odd ‘man’ out in the War Room, clashing with the imperialist officers, most notably Arnold T. Wilson, and their plans for British colonial rule. Life gets even more complicated for Gertrude, as she finds herself drawn to a married officer, Kin Cornwallis.
As the British losses mount in Mesopotamia, Gertrude convinces leadership to partner with the Arab tribes, and the strategy culminates in the successful seizure of Baghdad. At war’s end, Gertrude finds herself promoted to Oriental Secretary of Baghdad, and Kin offers to divorce his wife so that they can truly be together. Elated, Gertrude heads off to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference intent on seeing the promise of Arab self-rule fulfilled. But the French and British governments have different plans for the Middle East, and both countries choose to ignore their promises to the Arab tribes and instead carve up the Middle East into colonial regions, with Arnold being made High Commissioner of Baghdad. With the British promises broken, the Baghdad streets erupt in protest, and Arnold responds with heave-handed force, leading to the death of thousands of protesters during the Iraqi Revolt. To make matters worse, Kin returns to Baghdad with his wife, after she threatened to ruin Kin and Gertrude if he sought a divorce. Feeling gutted and utterly defeated, Gertrude musters the courage to make one last stand against Arnold at the 1921 Cairo Conference, convincing Winston Churchill to change course and authorize the creation of the Kingdom of Iraq. Gertrude draws up the Kingdom’s borders and sees Faisal I crowned the Iraqi people’s first King. Her legend lives on in the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and this Kingmaker is remembered today in Iraq with great affection.
"At the back of my mind, there is the firm conviction that no people likes permanently to be governed by another."