Aditya: Robert Beeland A HUNGER FOR DESOLATE PLACES: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, ORIENTALISM, AND ANTI-IMPERIALISM.

Beeland, Robert. A HUNGER FOR DESOLATE PLACES: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, ORIENTALISM, AND ANTI-IMPERIALISM. Http://sewanee.edu/. International and Global Studies 202: Islam and the West, 12 Dec. 2014. Web. 23 June 2016.

 

Beeland begins his paper with an overview of Lawrence and his exploits in Arabia. He believes that the film is cryptic and should be read beyond the overlying themes of a Biopic and stresses on the undertones on Anti-Imperialist views that the film eschews. “Lean illustrates Lawrence’s interests and passion regarding Arabia and, further, British interests in general, through an orientalist lens.” (Beeland 1). He cites Dennis Bingham and his book Whose Lives Are They Anyway? The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre, in which Bingham believes that it is imperative that the film be viewed through, “Its orientalist perspective and its anti-colonial premise.” (Beeland 1).

Beeland believes that imagery and dialogue were pivotal in establishing Arabia as an exotic landscape where Lawrence’s conquests are to be made. He reiterates Said’s view of the depiction of Arabia; “A frank acknowledgement that it was a world elsewhere, apart from the ordinary attachments, sentiments, and values of our world in the West” (Beeland 2). To further expound on his viewing of Lawrence through a Postcolonial perspective, he says, “The scope of the film’s Orientalist perspective is even more apparent in its characters and dialogue. Lawrence of Arabia frequently posits its Arab characters as naïve, ignorant, and in dire need of British assistance. This “distillation of essential ideas about the Orient—its sensuality, its tendency to despotism, its aberrant mentality… its backwardness” places Lawrence in a Messianic 9 role.” (Beeland 3).

Beeland argues that the film only reinforces the western view that without the British, Arabia would crumble in the hands of the barbaric and uncivilized Arabs. Lean, he believes, through the film points out to Arab greatness culturally and historically through a dialogue between Prince Faisal and Lawrence in Faisal’s tent in one of the earlier scenes. “Faisal recounts the splendor of 14 the Andalusian city Cordova, where there were, “two miles of public lighting in the streets when London was a village.” (Beeland 4). Beeland argues that Lawrence the person might’ve been inherently opposed to the colonial mindset but one cannot ignore the fact that he himself is a product of said mindset, however noble his intentions.

Beeland believes that the film gives space for two inherently opposing ideologies to exist; Lawrence through his lofty yet noble ambitions and that of the colonial and native rulers, who are so much alike that it is hard for one to distinguish the two. Lean, he argues furthers his anti-colonial beliefs by contrasting the dialogues of two British Army officials. “First, Brighton insists to Prince Faisal during a conversation in Faisal’s tent that “British and Arab interests are one and the same.” Later, Allenby claims to Lawrence that “Britain has no interest in Arabia,” only to seize rule of Damascus from the ill-suited Arabs near the end of the film.” (Beeland 6).

Beeland ends his paper by disagreeing with Said’s view of viewing the film solely through an Orientalist lens and believes that it is hard to ignore the film’s Anti-Colonial stance. Beeland believes that the film brought into question the legitimacy of the entire colonial project by providing the standpoint of a critical insider who happens to be Lawrence.

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Aditya: “A Sword with Two Edges”: Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and the End of Empire

Stubbs, Jonathan. “A Sword with Two Edges”: Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and the End of Empire. Journal of American Studies of Turkey 37 (2013): 11-30. Web.
Stubbs begins his article by citing from the Quadrennial Defense Review Report of the United States Department of Defense where he quotes, “One historical example […] comes from the Arab revolt in 1917 in a distant theater of the First World War, when British Colonel T. E.Lawrence and a group of lightly armed Bedouin tribesmen seized the Ottoman port city of Aqaba (11).” This according to Stubbs presents the crux of his article, the contemporary relevance of someone like Lawrence. To him, Lawrence needs to be deeply examined before one sets out to apply his methods in the field, case in point here being Iraq.
Stubbs ironically highlights that it was an American who almost a century ago, brought Lawrence to the notice of the American Public. Lowell Thomas was an American war correspondent who had been granted exclusive access to the Arab theater of the war and was pivotal in forging what Stubbs calls, ‘the myth of Lawrence of Arabia’ (Stubbs 27).
Stubbs slowly begins to establish the long held British notions of the White Man’s Burden and how the Lawrence myth helps fortify American self doubt over its involvement in Iraq. Lawrence was painted as an exotic outsider who’s presence was necessary to civilize and consolidate the Arabs. He quotes a New York Times article from 1926 that essays the feeling, “[I]n the realm of high adventure undertaken at great risk for great ends there is no figure today more romantic and mysterious than that of Lawrence of Arabia” (Savage 3).
It is then that Stubbs enters into the idea of the film on the life of Lawrence, the colonial mindset that dictates how his life should be depicted begins in the early stages. The original scriptwriter, Michael Wilson had his own reservations of the film, “A man attempts to shed one identity (English) and to assume another (Arab). He cannot achieve the latter goal; neither can he turn back his previous identity and earlier values. In trying to serve two masters, Lawrence betrayed them both.” (Stubbs 17). The central flaw to this argument Stubbs believes is that Lawrence is not someone who can be viewed in black or white and that there are shades of grey to his identity. The shades of grey, Stubbs argues, takes root in Lawrence’s own autobiography, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” where Lawrence himself begins doubting his infallibility, he starts doubting the outcome of all his actions during the Arab revolt.
The cinematic aspect is discussed in detail by Stubbs who believes that the people who believed that the movie would unearth the mystery behind the man were disappointed to find that that notion was far from true and the movie depicts him in all his ambiguity.
Towards the end of his piece, Stubbs talks about the Imperial notion of the failure of Postcolonial Nationalism and how, the movie only reaffirms such Imperial views even though it was made in the 1960’s, a period where England’s image as a world power was already waning. Stubbs believes that Lawrence has always been a poster boy for the noble ideas behind Imperial expansionism; initially for Britain and now, in the present day, for the United States of America.

Aditya: Introducing Film Studies by Jon Lewis

Lewis, Jon. “Introducing Film Studies.” Cinema Journal 50.3 (2011): 93-95. Web.
Jon Lewis recounts his initial foray into the teaching of Film Studies at Oregon State University. It was in fact he, who pioneered the introduction of the course to the University curriculum in 1985. He managed to negate the preconceived notion of reading ‘Film as literature’ which had previously been the way films were studied.
Lewis’s focus has primarily been on film history delving into much more deeper ideas later on. He talks about his disenchantment with the canon but finds himself with no other viable alternative. He stresses on the need to locate films in a historic and socio-political context in which they were made apart from the visual and stylistic markers present in the movie.