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History Unfolds
Jan 10, 2004 03:23 AM 2505 Views
(Updated Jan 10, 2004 03:34 AM)





A Visually stunning and emotionally moving bioepic of a WW1 hero, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is a near perfect motion picture. Before I reveal the plot of the movie there is something to be said about TE Lawrence and the state of Mesopotamia during the First World War.

A brief History Check:

During the First World War the Britishers wanted to keep the Turks from gaining control of the Suez Canal. The various fragmented Bedouin tribes were of little interest to the Brits. TE Lawrence an archeologist by profession, was posted to the Military Intelligence Department in Cairo during the WW1.

This is where the epic adventure begins. TE Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) now working in Cairo is chosen to be the secondent to the British Arab Bureau. His first job is to find Prince Feisel (Alec Guiness) and determine what the long term trends are.

He sets off into the vast expanse of the desert with a native guide to locate the Prince. On his journey his guide is shot in cold blood and Lawrence decides to pilot himself across the expanse to find the Prince which he eventually does. Prince Feisel and his men have already been defeated and demoralized by the Turks. Much to his superior Col. Harry Brighton's (Anthony Quayle) dismay, Lawrence promises the Prince to get 50 warriors across the fearsome Nefud desert and takeover the Turkish held port of Aqaba, which he eventually does. His sole aim then becomes to unite the fractured groups of the Bedouin tribesmen to revolt against the Turks.

O'Toole really gets into the skin of his character. TE Lawrence was believed to be a man of keen intelligence, charisma and barely concealed madness and O'Toole reflects his character to perfection. Sincere cameos played by Anthony Quinn as Auda Abu Tayi, the initially hostile leader of the Howeitat, Jack Hawkins, as General Allenby who recognises Lawrence's potential and ruthlessly uses it and Josi Ferrer pops up as Turkish Bey, a torturer who releases Lawrence's demons, while Arthur Kennedy, as reporter Jackson Bentley, does a magnificent job of creating his wartime hero.

No one wants to ends his time as a pawn of powers beyond his control, be it human or god-like origin, yet the pain of betrayal wounds so much more deeply for Lawrence. That's the tragedy that emerges form Lawrence of Arabia.

At close to four hours, Lawrence of Arabia is a very gripping and emotionally moving adventure trip to the vast expanse of the Nafud Desert, Aqaba, Cairo, Damascus and Medina. Lawrence of Arabia was the star of the 1963 Academy Awards ceremony, taking home seven out of the ten Oscars for which it was nominated: Best Director, Best Picture, Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Music Score, and Best Film Editing. It lost in the screenwriting competition and for two acting awards - Best Actor (Peter O'Toole) and Best Supporting Actor (Omar Sharif).

Lawrence also pens down the experiences in Arabia in the book ''Seven Pillars of Wisdom, A Triumph''.

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