A Few Words About While we wait for A few words about...™ Lawrence of Arabia -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. nikonf5

    nikonf5 Agent

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    What Allenby thinks he hears that makes him so uncomfortable is that Lawrence was uncomfortable with killing the man because he had a sexual relationship with the man.

    It is considered fact that Lean inserted a lot of gay subtext in LoA very subtly [to get past the censors of the day], and it is subtle enough that it gets past even modern audiences.



    This is all based on historical record which has records of Lawrence befriending a young Arab boy in Damascus before the revolt and living with him for a length of time in the same house.


    IIRC, everyone in the neighborhood knew he was doing it but no one said anything and he never denied it.


    The boy was killed before Lawrence returned to Damascus after the revolt and the opening poem in Seven Pillars is widely considered to be a dedication to him and seems to imply that Lawrence did the whole thing just to be able to get back to the boy and free him from the Turks.



     
  2. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    No.

    Something else.

    Lawrence was referring to the second "killing," ie. Gasim.

    RAH
     
  3. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    That is exactly what I've always thought, too, but rarely had anyone agree with me when I point it out. Several people who love the movie and seen it multiple times cannot even recall that such an exchange occurred and refuse to go with the sexual attraction option because O'Toole/Lawrence's "No, something else" rejection of it is so matter-of-fact. I suppose they are distracted from the implications of what Allenby and Lawrence have openly acknowledged by the more blockbuster confession that follows. Until I point it out on home video, they usually only remember Allenby's first mistaken conclusion and Lawrence's final confession, not the one in between. Of all the allusion's to Lawrence's homosexuality in the movie, I find that one to be the most fascinating because it has Allenby and Lawrence openly acknowledging it without debate in the presence of at least two other key military/political figures, yet it is so swift and subtle many miss it entirely.
     
  4. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    I could be wrong, but I think nikonf5 was referring to the execution of Gasim, as was I. Allenby wouldn't yet know the circumstances of Lawrence"s execution of Gasim but might be reading into Lawrence's confession that he had been sexually attracted to the man, perhaps had a sexual relation with him and that was what made the killing of him particularly difficult.
     
  5. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    Interesting theories but I am still hung up on the "Let it be a warning then." A warning about what to whom? If Lawrence was sleeping with the man then was the implied reason he was executed to shut him up or was it simply a warning to Lawrence not to get involved because he might have to do such things from time to time to people he had such feelings for? What about the possible implication that Lawrence was raped by the man he executed (for that very reason) and was a warning to the other Arabs? The second implication being the English didn't think much of Arabs and assumed such things are commonplace among such a backwards and uncivilized people (English view, not mine). Later a rape did happen to Lawrence but at the hands of the Turks so that might be it.
     
  6. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    Going even further, what about Allenby's entire comment on what he thinks Lawrence is revealing, "I see. Well that's all right. Let it be a warning"?! So General Lord Allenby is not only acknowledging his awareness of Lawrence's homosexuality and that it might interfere with his duties as an officer at a time of war, but even goes so far as to dismiss it in front of witnesses with "that's all right"?

    In fact, I do believe that was the implication Bolt/Wilson and Lean were trying to convey; that in his zeal to take British/French control of Arabia, Allenby was willing to look the other way about damn near anything and everything he'd heard rumored about Lawrence as well as whatever bombshell was coming next, in this case his "enjoying" killing someone. Upon hearing the confession and quickly digesting the shock of it, Allenby immediately changes the subject into something silly and comical (how he would look wearing Lawrence's headdress).

    LoA, particularly the first segment to the Intermission, is a movie where every gesture, every camera move and angle, every word, every syllable of every word provides layers of information and insight about its story, themes and characters. IMO, this is one of the best examples of it. Those few words by Allenby in this context tells us a tremendous amount about the situation and every character in that room, all while seeming to be a cast-off misunderstanding of what Lawrence is trying to tell him.
     
  7. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    Maybe we are simply reading too much into it. At first Allenby thought the issue was Lawrence had to personally execute someone with his pistol (i.e. close range and personal) and no one likes that even when justified. When not that then it could simply be Lawrence had a problem with the reason. Allenby dismisses that simply as such things need to be done in time of war and whatever the reason, justified or not, let it serve as a warning to the other Arabs to not repeat whatever the action was that caused the execution.
     
  8. SteveJ86

    SteveJ86 Auditioning

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    Yeah, if that is homosexual subtext, its so subtle it almost doesn't matter. I don't really think it is.

    I always thought that Allenby may have thought the executed man might be an innocent scapegoat, he doesn't know anything about Gasim or the killing. When Lawrence says "I had to execute him", Allenby probably thinks he had no choice in the matter...its one of those ugly things in war, learn from it and try to avoid it in future. Thats how I always saw it.
     
  9. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    This is how I've always read the scene. But one of the great things about art (cinematic or otherwise) is its ability to elicit perspectives that, while not necessarily the intent of the artist, are nevertheless consistent with what is viewed, read, heard, etc. As such, whether the filmmakers intended the homosexual subtext or the more prosaic reading you've mentioned (and I've had) doesn't really matter--either perspective works in the context of the scene. Even both work, if one is inclined to believe the filmmakers had more than one goal in mind with that exchange.
     
  10. owen35

    owen35 Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry for the off-topic post here, but I know that this forum has some spectacularly knowledgeable film industry posters.

    I recently discovered on our little island here in Alameda, CA a marvelous and beautiful theater that is for rent. I happened to visit it the other night for a historical society cocktail party. It is stunning. And totally unused. (http://www.michaans.com/theater.php)

    I'm curious, how difficult would it to be to start a summer festival of classic films in this unique theater? I would have to rent the prints or, at the very least, pay the rights to run a projected blu-ray, but I haven't a clue as to how this would be done.

    Does anyone have any links to distributors or a site that has particularly helpful information? When I do a google search all I find is information on distributing my own film, not renting a classic.
     
  11. owen35

    owen35 Stunt Coordinator

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    I tend to believe that there is a lot of reading into that scene issues or subtext that doesn't exist. I watched the scene again as that line "Let it be a warning" always made my ears perk up too. I was never exactly sure what he was referring to. Then I think I figured it out.

    Looking at the scene and going over the script I noticed that the exchange prior to Lawrence's admission was somewhat revealing. Allenby scolds Lawrence for "acting without orders" to which Lawrence replies: "Shouldn't officers use their initiatives at all times?" Lean then cuts to a wide for Allenby's quip of "Not really. It's awfully dangerous." To which Lawrence replies "Yes, I know."

    It is this brief exchange that then begins the setup for Lawrence's confession of his enjoyment in the execution. So I believe that Allenby's "Let it be a warning" was in reference to his previous scolding and that he would let Lawrence off with just a "warning" not an actual reprimand for disobeying orders of the campaign and the unfortunate killings.

    What still troubles me about that scene is Allenby's immediate look of shock after Lawrence's initial "No. Something else." Perhaps he is aware of the pain of war and is hesitant to continue with this topic? That would make the most sense to me. Or, perhaps it was Lean's way of ratcheting up that moment, for without Allenby's physical uncomfortableness with the topic at the outset, the "I enjoyed it" moment would have had less impact.

    Just a thought.
     
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  12. Reed Grele

    Reed Grele Screenwriter

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    I too, think that we're reading a bit too much into the scene.

    Now, if Gore Vidal had written the screenplay...... :rolleyes:
     
  13. KeithDA

    KeithDA Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry if this is 'off topic' but it seems the best thread to place the question.
    I've been re-watching the Eddie Fowlie documentary on the extras disc and am confused about one of his recollections. He is standing in an open courtyard of the Alcazar in Seville (which looked familiar from my visit a couple of years ago) and said that was the location for the Officers' 'two lemonades' Bar scene. I am sure that this was filmed in the Hotel Alfonso XIII..? (which I was unable to get into due to refurbishment) Can anyone confirm this?
     
  14. AdrianTurner

    AdrianTurner Banned

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    Yes, the bar for British officers was definitely the Hotel Alfonso. I stayed there many years ago . . . in those days the reception area had a few photos of David Lean, Peter O'Toole etc.
     
  15. KeithDA

    KeithDA Stunt Coordinator

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    Another question - sorry if it's already been discussed earlier.
    Does anyone know what the exact track listing is on the gift set CD? i.e. what are the names/themes of the 16 tracks?
     
  16. Cineman

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    But that seems like an awfully uncharacteristically clumsy way for screenwriters Bolt, Wilson, and director Lean to reiterate a point Allenby had just scolded Lawrence for. I mean, wouldn't he at least have said something like, "See what I mean? That is why acting without orders is so dangerous" or whatever instead of leading into that second "No, something else" with a suggestion that Lawrence had just brought up a new topic, one that Allenby hadn't considered (Allenby: "I see"), followed by a dismissive, "Well that's all right"? Not to mention the wrinkle in that theory that, if Lawrence had just defended his "acting on his own initiative", why would he be so troubled by having done so (as you suggest Allenby thinks is the reason Lawrence is turning down a promotion and resisting orders to return to the fight) that he would try to refuse a promotion to Major over it.

    And then there is the problem that Allenby couldn't possibly know the particulars of the killing/execution, whether there was the least bit of time or logistics to report to headquarters and wait for orders to proceed or anything else about it. In fact, he doesn't even ask, appears not to care what the reason was, who it was, why it had to be done, might not even consider the execution of an Arab an issue worthy of worry or discussion in the first place.

    When I watch this scene, it appears to me the filmmakers treated this exchange of dialogue as one of if not the most important exchange of dialogue in the movie regarding Lawrence's character, psychology, mystique, his relationship with the region, the people and the mission, the dynamic between all of that and his military/political superiors and so on. The forward push of the camera, moving as it does ever closer to Lawrence, the intensity of the moment, the courtroom-like interrogation set up with two other main characters as witnesses, coming as it does minutes before the Intermission suggest this is a very big moment. Personally, I don't think reading too much into every word of it is a risk.
     
  17. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    Or it was simply building tension towards the big reveal of Lawrence liking it. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
     
  18. AdrianTurner

    AdrianTurner Banned

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    OK, here's the deep dish on this sequence of events. Gasim hands over his two catamites, Daud and Farraj, to Major Lawrence. Gasim stupidly falls off his camel and will perish in the desert. Out of gratitude for having acquired the two boys, Lawrence feels the need to rescue Gasim from the sun's anvil. He does so. Then Gasim goes and does a silly thing. He shoots a Howitat. Lawrence must execute the hapless Gasim. And whaddya know? He enjoys it. Killing people, that is. It's a substitute for sex. Let that be a lesson.
     
  19. owen35

    owen35 Stunt Coordinator

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    I had also considered that it was odd how the scene changes abruptly after Lawrence's initial admission, but I think it is done for a reason. The real issue is that Allenby needs Lawrence in his campaign and therefore he doesn't want to hear any "truths" related to a troubling incident. Throughout the scene Lawrence keeps insisting that there is a confession buried within himself. Possibly it is due to guilt or that perhaps by admitting this horror he wouldn't have to go back to Arabia, regardless, Lawrence continues to push for the answer to be revealed. Once it is done, Allenby has to dismiss it out hand with the reprimand because he cannot be allowed to have an officer who enjoys killing. Each man has their own agenda: Lawrence to confess; Allenby to keep Lawrence in the war. This is why, I think, the moment is quickly interrupted as Allenby stands and inquires about the headgear rather than dwell on the moment. More importantly, the seduction continues with Dryden, Brighten, and even Perkins, praising Lawrence despite his admission. (It is interesting to note the composition of that scene, wide shot with Allenby, Dryden, and Brighten one side towering over a weak Lawrence.) The scene ends with this brilliant exchange:

    Lawrence: Your a clever man, sir.
    Allenby: No, but I know a good thing when I see one. That's fair, surely?

    The more I read it--and watch it--the more I appreciate its subtlety and construction. There is a tug-of-war going on and, in the end, both man gets what he wants.
     
  20. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    But Daud and Farraj didn't belong to Gasim. There is no indication that he'd ever met them before seeing them sneak over to the water pond for a drink. Plus, far from "handing them over", Gasim tried to talk Lawrence out of taking them on as servants or as anything else. :D
     

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