Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why and how to watch the movie Lawrence of Arabia

This true story is based on books TE Lawrence wrote after the Arab campaigns. He won acclaim for his chronicle of war and politics, the book he called Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

1) Movie director David Lean insists that the musical themes be heard by the audience over a black screen. He felt the composer’s score was classic.
2) The movie opens in England, 1935. Enjoy the brief but loving camera attention to a fine British motorcycle. L wrecks and is mortally injured.
Discuss motorcycles (Triumph, BSA, etc) as a symbol of British success in the Industrial Revolution.
3) L. is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, a burial place reserved for national heroes. Remarks heard in the crowd: L. was a complex fellow and not a perfect hero.
4) Cairo, Cartography department, British Army, about 1914. In several ways L. stands out from the soldiers with which he is serving. Explain. What is cartography?
L. is well-educated, speaks French and Arabic. Cartography: mapmaking.
5) What are the dates of WWI? Name the nations aligned with the British. Name the countries working with the Germans.
1914 - 1918; US enters war in 1917. Brits and French vs. Germans and Austria.
6) Vocab: overweening, dossier, Oxfordshire.
7) What language has L. studied in addition to his mother tongue and French?
8) In Arabia there is a conflict between the nomadic, tribal Bedouin peoples and the Turks, rulers of the Turkish Ottoman Empire - which includes Arabia. Who’s on the German side?
9) Is “the Officer’s Mess” a term for a carelessly kept room or the principal lounge area?
10) Arabian tribes are led by the wise, if weary, Prince Feisal of Mecca (see Faisal today).
11) What is the attitude of L’s desert guide toward the British officer’s pistol carried by L.? How does L. use the pistol in making his way amongst the Bedouins?
12) The Arabic word for canyon, usually a dry, rocky area between mesas, is “wadi.” The wadi is where Arabs have typically made their settlements.
What do the existence of these stone canyons say about the ancient geography of this region?
13) The Harish versus the Hazimi: is murderous tribal warfare a historic part of life in the vast desert? Are there such conflicts today?
14) What kind of vessel is used to bring up water from the deep well in the desert?
15) Translate “God be with you” into Arabic.
16) L. sings a WWI era ditty called “The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.” Where is Monte Carlo? In gambling, what does it mean to “break the bank”?

17) A Britishism for being posted to a unit is “seconded.”
18) What is meant by the term biplane?
19) Where did the Turks get airplanes? Not “at the store.”
20) What sound can Arabs seem not to be able to pronounce?
21) In the caravan some camels are surmounted by small, square tent enclosures. Who is in such a tent?

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