". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Saturday, September 5, 2015

David Lean's Lawrence Of Arabia - The Restored Version

This week I've been watching David Lean's three hour Plus restored screen version of Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Recall just prior to embarking upon this cinemtographic journey, I had been immersed in reading Scott Anderson's Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2013).  As Anderson refers frequently to Lean's film in the course of his myth-busting history of the Middle East theater in WWI, it felt right to look at the film again, because, naturally, as this is the movies, Lean consciously participated, almost gloatingly, in the mythologizing of all of it.

How could Lean not mythologize when he centers this instead of Arabs? Which, by the way, this is not the real topography of the deserts that Lawrence and his tribes traverse. Endless, dreary gravel and stone, bare of of almost all but thorns and bare mountain outcrops, that's what they traveled over.  Not sand.

There's a great deal to think about here, in terms of how movies and other kinds of entertainments cannot deal honestly with history by the rules of their own engagement.  Nor evidently could the arrogant, ignorant, incompetent, mendacious men who sent millions into the meat grinder that was WWI, and never learned. Anderson's still furious about them and the sheer idiocy that was the war. But not tonight. I'm too tired from dealing with my own idiocies of the day.

No comments: