Watching Lawrence of Arabia, Another Man Who Fell to Earth

Screenshots (Lawrence of Arabia)

 

Yesterday for the first time in 30 years I watched  Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean on the big screen (it just doesn’t translate well to TV images). I’ve seen Nicolas Roeg’s Man Who Fell to Earth twice at the theatre and dozens of other times.

Peter O’Toole was briefly considered for the role of Thomas J. Newton, but he would have brought a ton of cinematic baggage with him. He is, however, an imaginable Newton. Besides the skilled application of eyeliner,  Bowie and O’Toole share thin stature and perfect posture — and a well-mannered insouciance.

There are some beautiful shots similar to both films, starting with our first view of our heroes. It is from the back. The camera lingers on the back of their golden heads.

A particularly Bowie-esque moment is when O’Toole is granted the privilege of wearing white Arab robeslawrenceofarabiaknife. He goes off from his companions, and checks out his reflection in a knife, before watching the shadows he is making by spreading his arms and letting the thin fabric of his outer cloak flutter like angelic gossamer wings.

lawrence

Screenshots (Lawrence of Arabia)

Both are men looking for water. And neither belongs where he is. However hard he tried, T. E. Lawrence could not be a Bedouin any more so then Newton could be an Earthling.

Lawrence gets home to England, the home he finds inhospitable, and after surviving terrorizing experiences, as well as gaining great fame and fortune, dies young and accidentally. Newton, of course, finds his money and power of no use, and simply carries on, stuck on an inhospitable planet.

 

 

 

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