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Around the campfire: The silver screen turned golden

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I decided to catch up on movies that have been on my ‘must-get-around-to’ list.

I have always put off watching Lawrence of Arabia, David Lean’s 1962 classic, partly because it is so blooming long – 3 hours and 48 minutes. So I geared up for the evening with snacks and a beer, and settled into it.

Almost four hours passed in a trice.

I had no idea that T. E. (Thomas Edward) Lawrence was such a maverick. As a very junior officer in the First World War, Lawrence offended just about every senior officer in the British army, but befriended and unified Arabs under Prince Faisal, to revolt against the crumbling Ottoman empire of the Turks.

How true to the facts is the film? In a sense that doesn’t matter – the movie’s makers wanted to tell a dramatic tale, not a factual documentary. Steven Spielberg called the film a “miracle” and said it inspired him to become a filmmaker.

Some bits of the movie are obviously inventions – Peter O’Toole, who plays Lawrence, was more than six foot tall, whereas the real Lawrence was five foot five inches.

And one key event – the attack by the Arabs on Aqaba – was probably almost entirely an invention.

But the Aqaba assault rang true in one important sense.

The victorious Arabs are crestfallen to discover the town contains no gold, just paper money – which for them was worthless. Fiction or not, that struck me as telling an important truth – we are all engaged in the search for real money.

And it ain’t paper, folks.

Until next week,

Jason

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