This is one of the two movies my father picked out for me when I was nobbut a lad. It won 5 Oscars, was voted 3 on the BFI’s list of best films of all time. It is a majestic masterpiece, telling the story of the Arab revolt in WWI, through the eyes of T E Lawrence, an intelligence office in the British army.
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4 thoughts on “HiT Lawrence of Arabia”
Good conversation about a classic movie.
Racist? Historically inaccurate? Pretentious?
Sure, all of those things. But still, “a rattlin’ good yarn” (to quote a Rumpole of the Baily character). Plus the cinematography and music were epic.
Before I ever saw the movie, I read a book called “Lawrence and the Arabs”. It was a dusty little thing which I purloined from a nursing home library. This edition was published whilst the Seven Pillars of Wisdom was still being written. The authour’s foreward indicated that Lawrence led him use his notes… maybe the same notes which were later lost. Was an interesting perspective.
I must admit that I normally think if have to start talking about cinematography and stuff, then it’s a sign of trouble; but not in this case – they really are epic aren’t they? Must see it on the big screen
It’s possible to spend hours talking about this film and barely scratch the surface, but I was disappointed you didn’t get a chance to mention what I thought was it’s best line: “With Major Lawrence, mercy is a passion. With me, it is merely good manners. You may judge which motive is the more reliable.”
Aside from being just a beautiful piece of dialog, it was also sadly prophetic about just how UNreliable Lawrence’s illusions were. Which is why, in answer to the question “What is this movie about?”, I would suggest that it’s about the way certain westerners, among them “these desert loving English”, romanticized the idea of Arabia and its people, and the damage which resulted when that illusion was shattered.
When Lawrence claims to love the desert because it’s “clean”, the reporter is justifiably dubious, but I think what Lawrence was referring to wasn’t an absence of dust or grit, but an absence of complication. He saw Arabia in excessively simple terms – and that simplicity was an illusion, because of course it’s just as complicated as any other piece of the world that’s home to human beings.
Love the podcast, and can’t wait for the next episode.
Thank you Anne, very interesting, and yes, darn! Faisal was a sort of touchstone in the film wasn’t he? I agree about why Lawrence called it clean – because as you say everything was in black and white, he could put the betrayal he was part of into the back of his mind.
I rather muffed our question about what was it about! I’ll try to do better next time. Thanks so much for the comment.