LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

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Lawrence was my original Gladiator. It came out my sophomore year of college and just blew me away with its

cinematography, its music themes, and especially its characters.  I was a history major anyway and became quite

fascinated with T. E. Lawrence, reading all I could find both by and about him, including The Seven Pillars of

Wisdom.  I was interested in what he'd done before the war when he was an archaeologist in the area.  He was an

extremely tormented soul who was also larger than life.  I was at college on scholarship, which demanded I keep

an A average.  This movie came out just before mid-terms and my roommate, Sybil, and I decided to live dangerously

and not study...at all.  What we did the week we had to study was, well, go see Lawrence.  We saw it three times a

day, day after day, which is a major undertaking in that the film is so very...long.  There was a theater several blocks

up the road from Winthrop College toward the town of Rock Hill, SC, and that's where we went because we could

walk it. After a couple of days, the manager got used to seeing us come, and began letting us in for free.  During one

viewing, I even wrote down every word of the dialog, which actually wasn't terribly hard as there are long spaces

with little or none. I still have that notebook.  At the end of the week, the manager took Sybil and me out to dinner

in Charlotte (25 miles away) and then to the distribution center where he let each of us pick out a pile of the black

and white photos from Lawrence they used then in theater lobbies.  I still have those, too.  An article was published

in the newspaper about us, along with a photo of Sybil and me looking at a big Lawrence poster.  The article also

appeared in the Spartanburg newspaper, for which my paternal grandfather worked.  He was horrified about the

whole thing, having absolutely NO sense of humor, and called my father to complain.  At the bottom of the index page

for Jo's Other Place is this picture:

 

 

It was made by a friend of mine back in 2002 before I knew how to do such things myself.  That's me.  It's taken from this

picture:

 

 

As part of a construction project on back campus, a pile of sand had been dumped.  That's Kinard Hall, the main classroom

building at the time.  So one day I was looking at it and decided it would do for a very small desert and made myself an

outfit out of sheets, went down to the pile and sat on it while Sybil took this picture.  Lawrence of Winthrop.

 

Yes, I kept my scholarship without studying, though that was the only time in college I did that.  It was a bit risky, but what

are sophomores for if not to take risks?

 

It seems to have generationally rubbed off a bit as this is my son Evan on Halloween in the late 1970's.  He also wrote a big

term paper on Lawrence in high school.

 

 

Lawrence would have been my answer for years and years after this if anyone asked me what my favorite movie was.  Then

it got demoted by Gladiator.  There are actually certain similarities between them.  Lawrence is a full circle film, beginning

with and ending with a motorcycle.  It is done quite deliberately that way.  Gladiator both begins and ends in a wheat field,

completing its own full circle.  In between the beginning and endings of both lies the story of the journey of a single

extraordinary man.  Lawrence's death, though, is an ending of loss and defeat.  Maximus' is one of triumph, of completion.

But onward now to Lawrence, whom we first meet as a cartographer.  I hadn't watched this in some 20 years, but as I just

now watched it again to make these caps, I still heard every single word of dialog in my mind before it was spoken.  Every

single one.

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