A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia

Last updated

A Dangerous Man:
Lawrence After Arabia
A Dangerous Man - Lawrence After Arabia.jpg
Ralph Fiennes as T.E. Lawrence
Directed by Christopher Menaul
Produced by Colin Vaines
Written by Tim Rose Price
Starring
Running time
107 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia is a British television film of 1990 depicting the experiences of T. E. Lawrence and Emir Faisal of the Hejaz at the Paris Peace Conference after the end of the First World War. One of the conference's many concerns was determining the fates of territories formerly under the rule of the defeated Ottoman Empire. The film stars Ralph Fiennes (in his first film role) as T. E. Lawrence, Alexander Siddig (then credited as Siddig El-Fadil) as Faisal, Denis Quilley as Lord Curzon, and Nicholas Jones as Lord Dyson. It was made by Anglia Films and Enigma Television, and was first screened in April 1990 on the ITV network before being aired on PBS in May 1992.

Contents

The film was produced in 1990, a year after David Lean's film epic, Lawrence of Arabia (1962), was re-released to cinemas. It serves as an unofficial sequel to that earlier film, as it depicts events that happened after the First World War.

The film's screenplay was written by Tim Rose Price. Christopher Menaul directed the film.

The film goes further than its predecessor in reflecting the work of contemporary historians[ who? ]. It demonstrates contemporary concerns about British and international politics and ethnic conflict.[ original research? ] It also explores further Lawrence's enigmatic personality and suggests more openly his alleged homosexuality. The film also has Lawrence having to deal with his illegitimate birth, much as the Arab peoples seek legitimacy for their burgeoning nations, suggesting that legitimacy at both the personal and national levels is subject to the will of others with power.

Synopsis

The film starts with a quotation from Lawrence's 1926 book Seven Pillars of Wisdom which is used to provide the title of the film:

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream in the dark recesses of the night awake in the day to find all was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, and make it possible."

T.E. Lawrence is received before representatives of the British delegation, and urges them to back the claims of the Hashemites, who fought in the Arab Revolt and thus directly benefited British interests in the region. But when Faisal arrives at the post-war Paris Peace Conference, 1919 to claim Syria for Arab rule, after the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, he is delayed by French diplomats, uncertain of his intentions. Lawrence joins Faisal's negotiating staff despite attempts by the French and British to exclude the Arabs altogether (The only country portrayed sympathetically is the United States, with Woodrow Wilson’s dictum to let populations decide for themselves, in terms of self-government for colonial and territorial areas).

Lawrence defends Faisal’s claim to Syria by citing previous British undertakings to Faisal’s father in a "secret letter", as well as their joint triumphant march into Damascus against the Turks. Faisal's main demand at the conference is for Syria to be governed by Arabs. France has a stake there, however, and has made previous colonial agreements with Great Britain which complicate matters.

Rebuffed in their initial attempts, Lawrence and Faisal tap into their celebrity status and return to the conference wearing traditional Arab robes thus becoming the talk of Paris. His sincere efforts on behalf of his Arab friends gain him allies, including Gertrude Bell and Winston Churchill. But Lawrence's newly-gained popularity after the recent Great War poses a further complication, as popular films promote him, a white European, as the "Uncrowned King of Arabia". The wartime friendship between him and Faisal is thereby strained, most notably when the two are granted an audience with Wilson, who is more interested in hearing of Lawrence's adventures than listening to Faisal's demands. As negotiations reach a peak, Lawrence is called away to his dying father’s bedside. He arrives too late to see his father again alive and must leave too soon to see him buried. Meanwhile, without Lawrence by his side to handle negotiations, Faisal is forced to accept a French military presence in Syria. Lawrence angrily confronts French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, who defends French territorial claims to Syria that date back to the Crusades. Lawrence reminds Clemenceau who it was that actually won The Crusades.

The British and French challenge the Hejaz delegation's claim to Damascus, and Lt General Sir Harry Chauvel, the Australian commander of the Desert Mounted Corps of which the 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade was part of his force, vouches for his regiment having been first to reach the capital and formally accepting the surrender of the city. (Lawrence in theory was the senior British adviser to Faisal's Army and under Chauvel's command-Lawrence did not see it that way.) With his cause crumbling, Lawrence beseeches the American delegation to intervene. But an aide to Wilson tells Lawrence that the President has fallen ill and cannot receive him. Even in desperation, Lawrence cannot bring himself to oblige Madame Dumont, the wife of the French emissary, who propositions him. With nothing to lose, Lawrence releases information on the secret agreement between the British and French governments. He is denounced by Lord Curzon and the leaders of the British delegation as having acted like an enemy spy. Lawrence grimly observes that control of petroleum resources in the Middle East had been the primary objective of the British and French all along. Faisal and the Hejaz delegation return to Syria, where he proclaims himself king. Meanwhile, Churchill attempts to console Lawrence, promising to work with him to make things right.

A despondent Lawrence watches a newsreel showing his exploits with Faisal during the Arab Revolt. He then makes his way to see Faisal one more time. The strain in their relationship is relieved, as the two friends embrace again. Faisal expects to be deposed soon by the French, while Lawrence ruefully recalls the newsreels that dubbed him "The Uncrowned King of Arabia." Faisal laments that it is a title that suits both of them.

As newsreel footage of Lawrence and Faisal fades to white, a postscript states that after his overthrow in Syria, Faisal was installed (with help from Lawrence and Churchill) as King of Iraq, where he reigned until his death in 1933. Lawrence receded from public view and served without distinction in the British Army and the Royal Air Force before he died in a motorcycle accident less than two years after Faisal's death.

Throughout the film, Lawrence is shown writing what would become his most lasting publication, Seven Pillars of Wisdom. As in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and many biographies, the film suggests that Lawrence favours relationships with men over women. Ralph Fiennes plays Lawrence as hesitant in the public eye, smiling when forced to, knowing when to be hard in his negotiations, and completely alien to the world of women.

Cast

Legacy

The film was a significant breakthrough for both of its leading performers. After seeing Fiennes' performance, Steven Spielberg went on to cast him in the role of Amon Göth in Schindler's List , for which he was brought to international attention. Siddig's performance caught the attention of Star Trek producer Rick Berman, who invited Siddig to audition for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine . He eventually was cast as the station's doctor Julian Bashir, with the role being tailored to Siddig's talents.

Awards and nominations

Awards

International Emmys, 1992

Related Research Articles

History of Saudi Arabia Aspect of history

The history of Saudi Arabia in its current form as a nation state began with the emergence of the Al Saud dynasty in central Arabia in 1744 and the subsequent establishment of the Emirate of Diriyah. The territory that now constitutes Saudi Arabia was the site of several ancient cultures and civilizations. The prehistory of Saudi Arabia shows some of the earliest traces of human activity in the world. The world's second-largest religion, Islam, emerged in modern-day Saudi Arabia. In the early 7th century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad united the population of Arabia and created a single Islamic religious polity. Following his death in 632, his followers rapidly expanded the territory under Muslim rule beyond Arabia, conquering huge and unprecedented swathes of territory in a matter of decades. Arab dynasties originating from modern-day Saudi Arabia founded the Rashidun (632–661), Umayyad (661–750), Abbasid (750–1517) and Fatimid (909–1171) caliphates as well as numerous other dynasties in Asia, Africa and Europe.

<i>Lawrence of Arabia</i> (film) 1962 film directed by David Lean

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic historical drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence and his 1926 book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel, through his British company Horizon Pictures, and distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film stars Peter O'Toole as Lawrence with Alec Guinness playing Prince Faisal. The film also stars Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, and Arthur Kennedy. The screenplay was written by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson.

T. E. Lawrence 19/20th-century British archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat

Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence was a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat, and writer who became renowned for his role in the Arab Revolt (1916–1918) and the Sinai and Palestine Campaign (1915–1918) against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title used for the 1962 film based on his wartime activities.

San Remo conference Allocation of League of Nations mandates

The San Remo conference was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council as an outgrowth of the Paris Peace Conference, held at Villa Devachan in Sanremo, Italy, from 19 to 26 April 1920. The San Remo Resolution passed on 25 April 1920 determined the allocation of Class "A" League of Nations mandates for the administration of three then-undefined Ottoman territories in the Middle East: "Palestine", "Syria" and "Mesopotamia". The boundaries of the three territories were "to be determined [at a later date] by the Principal Allied Powers", leaving the status of outlying areas such as Zor and Transjordan unclear.

Emirate of Transjordan Predecessor of the Kingdom

The Emirate of Transjordan, officially known as the Amirate of Trans-Jordan, was a British protectorate established on 11 April 1921.

Faisal I of Iraq 20th-century King of Syria and Iraq

Faisal I bin Al-Hussein bin Ali Al-Hashemi was King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933. He was the third son of Hussein bin Ali, the Grand Emir and Sharif of Mecca, who was proclaimed as King of the Arabs in June 1916. He was a 38th-generation direct descendant of Muhammad, as he belongs to the Hashemite family.

Hashemites The royal family of Jordan

The Hashemites, also House of Hashim, are the royal family of Jordan, which they have ruled since 1921, and were the royal family of the kingdoms of Hejaz (1916–1925), Syria (1920) and Iraq (1921–1958). The family had ruled the city of Mecca continuously from the 10th century, frequently as vassals of outside powers, and were given the thrones of the Hejaz, Syria, Iraq and Jordan following their World War I alliance with the British Empire; this arrangement became known as the "Sharifian solution".

Sykes–Picot Agreement Secret 1916 agreement between the United Kingdom and France

The Sykes–Picot Agreement was a 1916 secret treaty between the United Kingdom and France, with assent from the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy, to define their mutually agreed spheres of influence and control in an eventual partition of the Ottoman Empire.

The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence is a series of letters that were exchanged during World War I in which the Government of the United Kingdom agreed to recognize Arab independence after the war in exchange for the Sharif of Mecca launching the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The correspondence had a significant impact on Middle Eastern history during and after the war; a dispute over Palestine continued thereafter.

Alexander Siddig Sudanese-born English actor

Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abdurrahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi is a Sudanese-born English actor and director known professionally as Siddig El Fadil and subsequently as Alexander Siddig.

Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca Sharif and Emir of Mecca and King of Hejaz (1854-1931)

Hussein bin Ali Al-Hashimi was an Arab leader from the Banu Hashim clan who was the Sharif and Emir of Mecca from 1908 and, after proclaiming the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, King of the Hejaz from 1916 to 1924. At the end of his reign he also briefly laid claim to the office of Caliph. He was a 37th-generation direct descendant of Muhammad, as he belongs to the Hashemite family.

Arab Revolt Uprising in 1916 against the ruling Ottoman Turks during World War I

The Arab Revolt or the Great Arab Revolt was a military uprising of Arab forces against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. On the basis of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, an agreement between the British government and Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the revolt was officially initiated at Mecca on June 10, 1916. The aim of the revolt was to create a single unified and independent Arab state stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen, which the British had promised to recognize.

Faisal–Weizmann Agreement 1919 agreement

The Faisal–Weizmann Agreement was a 3 January 1919 agreement between Emir Faisal, the third son of Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi, King of the short-lived Kingdom of Hejaz, and Chaim Weizmann, a Zionist leader who had negotiated the 1917 Balfour Declaration with the British Government, signed two weeks before the start of the Paris Peace Conference. Together with a letter written by T. E. Lawrence in Faisal's name to Felix Frankfurter in March 1919, it was one of two documents used by the Zionist delegation at the Peace Conference to argue that the Zionist plans for Palestine had prior approval of Arabs.

Kingdom of Hejaz Western part of Arabian peninsula ruled by the Hashemite dynasty (1916-1925)

The Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz was a state in the Hejaz region in the Middle East, the western portion of the Arabian Peninsula ruled by the Hashemite dynasty. It achieved national independence in June 1916 after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire by the British Empire during the First World War when the Sharif of Mecca fought in alliance with the British Imperial forces to drive the Ottoman Army from the Arabian Peninsula during the Arab Revolt.

Cairo Conference (1921)

The 1921 Cairo Conference, described in the official minutes as Middle East Conference held in Cairo and Jerusalem, March 12 to 30, 1921, was a series of meetings by British officials for examining and discussing Middle Eastern problems, and to frame a common policy. The secret conference of British experts created the blueprint for British control in both Iraq and Transjordan. By offering nominal leadership of those two regions to the sons of the Sharif of the Mecca, Churchill felt that the spirit if not the actual letter of Britain's wartime promises to the Arabs were fulfilled.

Arab Kingdom of Syria

The Arab Kingdom of Syria was a self-proclaimed, unrecognized state that began as a "fully and absolutely independent... Arab constitutional government" announced on 5 October 1918 with the permission of the British military, gained de facto independence as an "Emirate" after the withdrawal of the British forces from OETA East on 26 November 1919, and was proclaimed as a Kingdom on 8 March 1920.

This is a timeline of major events in the history of the modern state of Jordan.

Mandate for Palestine League of Nations mandate for British administration of Palestine and Transjordan

The Mandate for Palestine was a League of Nations mandate for British administration of the territories of Palestine and Transjordan, both of which had been conceded by the Ottoman Empire following the end of World War I in 1918. The mandate was assigned to Britain by the San Remo conference in April 1920, after France's concession in the 1918 Clemenceau–Lloyd George Agreement of the previously-agreed "international administration" of Palestine under the Sykes–Picot Agreement. Transjordan was added to the mandate after the Arab Kingdom in Damascus was toppled by the French in the Franco-Syrian War. Civil administration began in Palestine and Transjordan in July 1920 and April 1921, respectively, and the mandate was in force from 29 September 1923 to 15 May 1948.

Sharifian Solution British plan to install Hashemite family rulers in Middle East territories

The Sharifian or Sherifian Solution, as first put forward by T. E. Lawrence in 1918, was a plan to install three of Sharif Hussein's four sons as heads of state in newly created countries across the Middle East: his second son Abdullah ruling Baghdad and Lower Mesopotamia, his third son Faisal in Syria, and his fourth son Zeid in Upper Mesopotamia. The Sharif himself would not wield any political power in these places, and his first son, Ali would be his successor in Hejaz.

Jordan–Saudi Arabia border

The Jordan–Saudi Arabia border is 731 km in length and runs from the Gulf of Aqaba in the south-west to the tripoint with Iraq in the north-east.

References