Modern History: Essay/Film Response
From an historical perspective, David Leans’ film, Lawrence of Arabia was flawed with inaccuracies of both characters (especially Lawrence) and events, but it was truly an epic film that has been rightly seen as a classic.
The crumbling Ottoman Empire of the 19th century was put under pressure by the expanding imperial powers of Britain, France and Germany, each wanting territory in the Middle East. For example, Britain’s interest in the land was for oil, the Suez Canal and it’s land routes and the safeguarding of the sea routes to India.
Contrary to the films adaptation, Lawrence, a “Jut jawed, deceitful man”, standing at 5ft, 4in opposed to Peter O’toole at 6ft, 2in was a committed Arabist who had been working as an archaeologist for several summers in the Middle East through the influence of his mentor, David George Hogarth who was the keeper of the Ashmolean Museum. He had studied under Hogarth at university and had a great comprehension of military, political, historical and archaeological aspects of the region. Lawrence had been taking part in military surveys whilst on these archaeological digs. By 1914, when war looked likely, Lawrence was already a major part in the British espionage system known as the Arab Bureau. Its aim was to bring down the Ottoman Empire. The head of the Arab Bureau was ‘Bertie’ Clayton, which in the film, is Mr. Dryden.
As opposed to the film where Mr. Dryden sent Lawrence to assess the prospects of Prince Faisal in his revolt against the Turks, in reality the Arab Bureau and Lawrence supported the idea of an Arab Revolt as outlined in the McMahon Letter. This letter, a case of conflicting promises is better understood as described by Edward Said. He describes “Orientalism” as the way European’s viewed the inhabitants of the Orient as inferior politically, economically and culturally.
As outlined in Perry’s: The Australian Light Horse (Novel), Sharif al Far qi who was a deserter...
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