Screened as part of NZIFF 2005

The Queen of Sheba's Pearls 2004

Directed by Colin Nutley

In Colin Nutley's sweet comic hymn to Englishness, the hushed, proper, rather sad household of a country vicarage is brought back to life after World War II by the arrival of a beautiful mysterious 'foreigner'.

Sweden / UK In English and Swedish with English subtitles
132 minutes CinemaScope

Director, Screenplay


Jens Fischer


Perry Schaffer


Per Andréasson


Helena Bergström
Lorcan Cranitch
Lindsay Duncan
Tim Dutton
Rolf Lassgård
Natasha Little


It is 1952 and England is still recovering from war, heartened by the sweet, measured tones of the young Princess Elizabeth on the radio. In this appealingly low-key comedy drama, the hushed, proper and rather sad household of a country vicarage is brought back to life by the arrival of a beautiful, mysterious ‘foreigner’. What startles everyone is the woman’s resemblance to Emily, the daughter of the household who was killed by a crashing plane in 1944. No-one is more shocked than Emily’s 16-year-old son Jack, who remembers his mother vividly, and is so convinced that life continues after death that he’s ready to believe that she is indeed his mother reincarnated. To say that Jack is more open-minded than anyone else in this family is putting it mildly. It transpires that Nancy, the stranger, is Swedish. As her mystery is unravelled, so are decades of secrets and lies. British-born writer-director Colin Nutley (House of Angels) has lived and worked for years in Sweden. His first British feature regards the stiff upper lips of provincial England with the amused raised eyebrow of a cosmopolitan Swede, knowing full well that the English can be as superstitious, sentimental, sexed-up and just as plain silly as anyone else. Beautifully shot in Devon, The Queen of Sheba’s Pearls sings a sweet, comic hymn to Englishness – and to life after death as well. — BG

“Nutley, at the ripe old age of 60, has reached down and summoned a picture that seems to reconcile both sides of a split life. Recognizably ‘Swedish’ in its visual rigor and compositions, though thoroughly ‘British’ in the power of its emotional suppression, The Queen of Sheba’s Pearls is unquestionably his most substantial movie to date.” — Derek Elley, Variety