Sunday, July 12, 2015

HISTORY or HOLLYWOOD: Lawrence of Arabia

In honor of the great Omar Sharif, here is my "History or Hollywood" analysis of his best movie - "Lawrence of Arabia".



1.        Lawrence was killed when his speeding motorcycle ran off the road.  

2.       Lawrence was working as an intelligence officer for the Arab Bureau in Cairo before being tapped for his role in the Arab Revolt.  

3.       The British authorities wanted Lawrence to meet Prince Faisal and encourage him to unite the Bedouin tribes against the Turks.  

4.       Gen. Murray was anti-Lawrence.  

5.       Lawrence’s guide is killed by Ali because he was drinking from Ali’s water well.  

6.       Faisal’s camp was bombed by the Turkish air force.  

7.       Lawrence proposed the attack on Aqaba.  

8.       Lawrence and Ali led a force across the Negev Desert and Lawrence rescued Gasim.  

9.       Lawrence was rewarded with white Arabic clothing.  

10.    Lawrence met Auda and convinced him to join the cause.  

11.    Lawrence executed Gasim to preserve Bedouin unity.  

12.    Lawrence and Auda captured Aqaba in a surprise cavalry charge.  

13.    Lawrence crossed the Sinai to bring the news of Aqaba to Cairo.  

14.    An American newspaperman named Bentley publicized Lawrence’s adventures.  

15.    Lawrence led guerrilla attacks on the Turkish railway.  

16.    Lawrence was arrested and tortured by a Turkish commander in Daraa.  

17.     Lawrence reacted to the sacking of Tafas by ordering a “no prisoners” vengeance.  


18.    Lawrence tried to circumvent British plans by having the Arab Council take control of Damascus, but the Arabs proved incapable of governing themselves.  

ANSWERS

1.        Lawrence was killed when his speeding motorcycle ran off the road.  History

2.       Lawrence was working as an intelligence officer for the Arab Bureau in Cairo before being tapped for his role in the Arab Revolt.  History

3.       The British authorities wanted Lawrence to meet Prince Faisal and encourage him to unite the Bedouin tribes against the Turks.  History

4.       Gen. Murray was anti-Lawrence.  Histywood  Murray was at first skeptical of Lawrence, but soon became a fan (although Lawrence never warmed to him).

5.       Lawrence’s guide is killed by Ali because he was drinking from Ali’s water well.  Hollywood  The guide is based on a real person and Lawrence did meet Sherif Ali at a well, but there was no violence.

6.       Faisal’s camp was bombed by the Turkish air force.  History  Lawrence was not there to witness the event.  Faisal told him about it when they met.  The Arabs were having trouble coping with the Turks’ modern weaponry.

7.       Lawrence proposed the attack on Aqaba.  Histywood  The plan was a group effort by several British officers including Lawrence.

8.       Lawrence and Ali led a force across the Negev Desert and Lawrence rescued Gasim.  Histywood  Auda was with them at this point.  Lawrence did rescue Gasim, but it was because it was his responsibility to take care of his servant.  Lawrence did not like Gasim because he was a bad character.

9.       Lawrence was rewarded with white Arabic clothing.  History  However, Lawrence was already wearing Arabic clothing before the movie shows this.

10.    Lawrence met Auda and convinced him to join the cause.  Hollywood  Auda was already on board when he first met Lawrence at Faisal’s camp.  Auda was a ruthless warrior, but was not motivated by greed.  He was a sincere patriot.

11.    Lawrence executed Gasim to preserve Bedouin unity.  Histywood  Lawrence did have to execute a murderer, but it was not Gasim.  It did take him several shots.

12.    Lawrence and Auda captured Aqaba in a surprise cavalry charge.  History  The attack was not as much of a surprise as the movie shows.  The Turks had already lost some outposts and a surrender had been negotiated when Arab reinforcements arrived and insisted on a charge.  The charge is accurately depicted as brief and almost unopposed.  Auda was not upset at the lack of treasure and in fact turned down Turkish bribes to switch sides.

13.    Lawrence crossed the Sinai to bring the news of Aqaba to Cairo.  Histywood  Lawrence was accompanied by seven others (including Daud and Farraj).  Daud did not die in quick sand.  He died a tear later of typhus and Lawrence was not with him.

14.    An American newspaperman named Bentley publicized Lawrence’s adventures.  Hollywood  Bentley was based on Lowell Thomas.  Thomas met Lawrence after the U.S. entered the war.  He was only with Lawrence for a short time and did not witness any train attacks.  He was not cynical or critical of Lawrence.  In fact, he made Lawrence famous after the war.

15.    Lawrence led guerrilla attacks on the Turkish railway.  Histywood  The train attacks started before Aqaba and it was other British officers that originated them.  Lawrence was never wounded in any attack.  Farraj was not injured by an explosive.  He was actually wounded in a raid on the Turks.  Lawrence did put him out of his misery and the dialogue was authentic.

16.    Lawrence was arrested and tortured by a Turkish commander in Daraa.  History  The incident in the movie is accurate as far as it goes, if you take “Seven Pillars” at face value.  The movie implies that there was a rape.  This seems likely, although there are historians who believe the entire story was made up by Lawrence.

17.     Lawrence reacted to the sacking of Tafas by ordering a “no prisoners” vengeance.  History  The initial charge was initiated solo by Talal as shown in the film.  Lawrence did participate in the killing.  His supporters insist he took responsibility for the killings because that is what a leader does.


18.    Lawrence tried to circumvent British plans by having the Arab Council take control of Damascus, but the Arabs proved incapable of governing themselves.  Histywood  Lawrence was aware of the Sykes-Picot agreement to create British and French spheres of influence in the region, but he hoped to preempt the plan.  There were electricity and other public services problems, but the Arab administration was not deposed until 1920.

RATING  =  .64

4 comments:

  1. Great stuff. I'm enjoying reading your blog. It's always interesting to see where moviemakers blatantly make stuff up in their dramatisations.

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  2. Thanks. I enjoy doing the History or Hollywood posts because I am often surprised by the results. I also enjoy pointing out bull crap in movies.

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  3. You know when you retire (after we've colonized Pluto) that would be a great title for a blog/book/website/dog: Histywood. It could examine how Hollywood has treated history in various war movies. Very similar to what you have done with your blog. You better write that title down. Maybe copyright it. Did you know that O'Toole (that would be Peter not Plenty) came up with the idea of Lawrence looking at his reflection in his knife while he was prancing around in the desert. He also slept with thousands of women (Peter not Lawrence). Or maybe it was hundreds. In the desert I get confused. Both fun facts to know.

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  4. I could have figured out the girls was not a reference to T.E. I think History or Hollywood is probably taken.

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