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The great Lawrence of Arabia fights side-by-side with the Arabs to help
Arabia from Turkish invaders. Fade to black. Roll credits. End of
Well, not entirely. A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia, tells more. In this movie, T.E. Lawrence (Ralph Fiennes) goes to Paris with Feisal (Alexander Siddig) to argue for Arab independent rule during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. In Paris, instead of the shifting sands of the desert, Feisal and Lawrence encounter shifting political alliances.
If you're interested in current Middle East affairs, this movie provides some insight. It portrays the division of the Middle East into "spheres of influence." England, France, and the United States would each be responsible for a particular sphere. Feisal and Lawrence want Great Britian to make good on their wartime promise to create Syria as an independent Arab state. However, Britian now supports France as the eventual ruler of Syria.
A brief scene shows Lawrence watching a worker oiling a chandelier. Lawrence explains to his companion, "If France gets Syria, we [the British] get the Persian Gulf." His companion replies that if Britian must choose between loyalty to Feisal or access to petroleum... well, Feisal doesn't stand a chance.
Through Feisal, we get some sense of how the Arabs must have felt as their homeland was carved into pieces of pie for the powerful, oil-hungry Western world. It's interesting that, through most of the movie, Feisal speaks to other officials only through Lawrence although Feisal speaks fluent English. In fact, Feisal relies on Lawrence to not only interpret but, in some cases, to create his thoughts. While this may or may not be historically accurate, it certainly highlights Feisal's precarious position.
The movie briefly questions Lawrence's motives in helping Feisal. (`I want Syria to be our first brown dominion,' says Lawrence, `and I can do it with my Arabs.') Ultimately, though, it portrays him as a well-intentioned man caught up in politics that are out of his control. Syria did, in fact, go to France. In the 1920s, however, Britian supported Feisal as ruler of a new Arab kingdom - Iraq.
Terrifically acted by Ralph Fiennes and Alexander Siddig, this movie wraps up the loose ends of the Lawrence of Arabia legend. By the time the credits roll, you know much more about who, how, and why than you did before.
This film is a wonderful glimpse into the stiff and devious world of frock coated 1919 diplomacy. I agree with those who already have said it is a wonderful companion piece for the more well known film about T.E. Lawrence. Fiennes gives a very deep and effective interpretation of the complex Lawrence. The recreations of Clemenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George are powerful indeed. The Versailles treaty is almost ancient history even though it had much to do with shaping today's complicated world. This film brings it into the present (or maybe us into the past). Perhaps not everybody's cup of tea but well worth seeing if you like twentieth century history, good acting and fine British television.
If you're like me, the film LAWRENCE OF ARABIA always leaves you
for more viewing material about T.E. Lawrence. Since documentaries sadly
don't seem to appeal to all tastes this outstanding telefilm may satisfy
your apetite. The movie deals with Lawrence's activities at the Paris
Conference following World War One and the cast is wonderful. Appropriate
for material based on real events the film avoids hype and melodrama,
keeping the viewer riveted with it's mature, intelligent approach. No
what your politics it's intriguing to watch this movie and reflect on
might have been" regarding relations between the Western Democracies and
nations being formed from the remains of the Ottoman Empire. The closing
scene between Lawrence and Feisal nicely summarizes the sense of a
monumental lost opportunity.
Program this film as a second feature the next time you watch LAWRENCE OF ARABIA for a wonderful marathon viewing experience.
I have seen the film again, read the other reviews and I too consider this movie excellent in its own right, the stars are spot on and the acting very believable. It is a definite companion piece to Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia", I have the 2 DVDs side by side in my collection at home. It might not have the trainwrecks and the battles with the Turks, but the politics of the time are very important, also very interesting, emphasised more strongly in this film than "Lawrence of Arabia". History buffs will lean toward this film I feel, as I have done. You will not even notice it was made for TV, the story is so gripping. Ralph Fiennes is remarkable in the role of T.E.Lawrence, working as translator and for the Arab cause, King Feisal perfectly portrayed by the young actor Alexander Siddiq, the others the politicians including Michael Cochrane as Winston Churchill are first rate, Nicholas Jones as Lord Dyson is chilling. To sum up, extremely good, an important and interesting film (not dry as someone said, the translation scenes, the speeches for world leaders had me on the edge of my seat) One has to look back at history to understand what is going on today. In the main, all the historical facts are in place here, and therefore one can at least, partially understand the complex situation in the region in our present age as we tune in to the News. Comment from Malcolm in Toronto, May 27th 2007
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I viewed this DVD on my computer, and did have some difficulty
understanding the audio, that came across as sometimes faint or fuzzy, but
shall comment on this well acted film nonetheless. Lawrence After Arabia
an interesting film for the psychological dimension portrayed in the main
character, T.E. Lawrence, (Ralph Fiennes) an archeologist and Colonel, in
the British forces, during World War I, at the time of the Paris Peace
Conference, in 1919. Sometime during the war, Lawrence forms a rather
friendship with Prince Feisel,(Alexander Siddig) of the Arab lands. At
start of peace negotiations, Lawrence wants to be perceived as nothing
than as a mere interpreter for the Prince's cause, which is to keep the
nations, under Arab rule. But underlying this simple role, he truly
to be a hero among mankind, one responsible for settling the Middle East,
post war. Lawrence's goal is to ensure that the Prince receives rule over
Syria. But the French want Syria, and the British want the Persian Gulf,
ultimately as a means to acquiring oil.
In the film's introduction, we are taken into a movie theatre, where a documentary is being shown of Lawrence and Feisel's camel journey, in the desert. From that point, we are taken back to the point where Lawrence and Feisel have agreed that Lawrence will represent Feisel and his country, as a spokesperson leading up to and during the peace conferences. As a part of the plan, Lawrence has Feisel pretend not to speak or understand any other language than his own, even when he is fluent in English. Lawrence, with all of his heart, pleads Feisel's cause to many, but primarily the British, French, and Australians. A subtle turn of events occurs when Lawrence communicates with leaders of participating nations. He begins to let the importance, romanticism, and glamour of it all, inflate his ego. We see a noticeable change, when he begins to proudly wear the colorful and silky Arab head pieces. At the time, reporters cover a story on the relationship between the Prince and Lawrence. Lawrence lavishes in all the attention, while the Prince is completely ignored by all. The Prince is utterly upset at Lawrence's display of egoism and disregard for inclusiveness.
But not soon later, leaders begin to view Lawrence as a traitor to his country. He is scorned, and instructed to return to Oxford, in England, where he is to continue his studies. Even Feisel now realizes that he, himself, is capable of communicating his own cause, without the help of Lawrence. Feisel declares himself ruler of Syria. The French protest. Britain along with Lawrence's influence, will assign Feisel, as ruler of Iraq. The film's conclusion will shortly follow.
What makes this story interesting is Lawrence's dare to live his day dreams, by day. In his introductory monologue to the film, he claims himself to be a dangerous man for it. But really, we find it is only dangerous when the dream inflates or deflates the ego. In this case, his dreams do both. On further thought, he is really dangerous to himself more than to anyone else. We sense that Lawrence dreams of being a great negotiator among influential men. He succeeds at times, but when he does not, he has a difficult time coping with failure and lack of recognition. He wants to be everyone's hero and we see this when he eloquently and impeccably pleads Feisel's cause, both in English and in French, to a commission of nation's leaders.
Ralph opens himself up well to playing this unique lead, characterized as one who is never quite satisfied with himself or the situation, and one who is, at times, plagued by weakness and defeat. The magnetic vulnerability and weakness that Ralph can create does not come from self-deprecation, but from a more unconscious and organic feel. The character's weakness, in this instance, appears to originate from an unstable ego, one possibly marred by lack of firm and stable support, but from whom? The answer could rest in many, including his family, his community, or at the present time, leaders of nations. It is evident that his ego is wired for peace and not war. Additionally, Lawrence is a private man. His sensitive nature slowly surfaces when a strikingly beautiful woman, named Mme. Dumont (Polly Walker) makes an advance for sex, in his bedroom. At that moment, he is at first sickened, and then roused to a slight form of hysterical laughter. It is not the sort of affirmation he is seeking, presently. He leaves the woman untouched, as he is honest to his emotion.
At times, Lawrence is clever, quick, and smart, but at other times, he is too restrained and controlled. Yet, he is treading in sensitive waters, as he must show a sense of respect, even subservience to his elders, in higher command. If he looses control and composure, he will loose his credibility and other's attention. Then, he will be perceived as someone who is unable to negotiate. Hence, in terms of composure, Lawrence masters this art. Still, ultimately, he cannot persuade leaders to believe his cause. The higher powers are looking to bargain for a key natural resource, oil. Ideally, the goal is two fold: settle the land and negotiate an oil deal. Lawrence is a smaller fish swimming in a much larger sea. Nevertheless, we admire his interesting, yet still underdeveloped alliance, with Prince Feisel. Although one might desire more dialogue to play up the depth of each character, we are captured by Lawrence's sensitive ego and vulnerable spirit. Ralph delivers this role in the meticulous fashion it requires.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In this unofficial sequel to "Lawrence of Arabia", "A Dangerous Man"
chronicles the efforts of T.E. Lawrence (Ralph Fiennes in his first
film role) to live up to his promise for Arab independence. Along with
Arab leader Prince Feisal (Alexander Siddig), he travels to the Paris
Peace Conference in 1919 to argue for Arab independence. Though he
finds some support, he is thwarted at every turn by diplomatic
checkmates and unlucky coincidences, and ultimately he and Feisal are
forced to leave empty-handed.
This is a moderately interesting historical film which is definitely inhibited by the fact that it was a made-for-cable production. It's also rather dry, with the exception of a few interesting scenes, and fails to generate much tension in what's going on. However, the film should be credited with its depiction of the chess-like gamesmanship of the diplomats, who have all the cards, and the almost-but-not-quite-successful bluffing of Lawrence and Feisal, who essentially have none other than that Britain promised the Arabs independence.
Ralph Fiennes does a stellar job as T.E. Lawrence. He looks a lot more like Lawrence than Peter O'Toole (though he's still taller), and while it would be virtually impossible for him to match O'Toole's performance in the Lean film he does a memorable job in his own right. All of Lawrence's jaunty optimism, egotism, idealism, and repressed homosexuality are present in his portrayal. Alexander Siddig is no doubt a much more realistic Feisal than Alec Guinness's portrayal, young, hopeful, friendly, somewhat naive but determined to gain freedom for his people. The supporting cast includes some tier one character actors: Denis Quilley and Nicholas Jones as British diplomats, Robert Arden in a very memorable turn as Woodrow Wilson, Michael Cochrane as Winston Churchill, and Jim Carter as Colonel Meinhertzhagen, Lawrence's chief aide.
"A Dangerous Man: Lawrence of Arabia" is not going to live up to "Lawrence of Arabia", for obvious reasons. Nor is it a terribly exciting film, which should be obvious given the subject matter. If you are a fan of Lean's original film, a T.E. Lawrence devotee, or a history buff (and this present writer is all three), then this film is worth a look. All others should watch their own discretion.
This is an excellent film dealing with Lawrence's struggle to fulfill his promise to the Arabs to allow them independant rule in their own land. Acting, directing, everything about this film is superb.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's well done, yes -- top notch. But I recently read the book "1919" about the peace talks after the war, and I found no mention of a major plot element in this movie. <spoilers ahead> There was nothing about a letter documenting a British promise of Arab independence, which Lawrence supposedly released to the press in an effort to apply pressure for the Arab cause at the peace talks. In the movie, Lawrence is accused of disloyalty as a result, and is sent back to England under the threat that his illegitimacy will be revealed if he doesn't back off. I also recently saw a PBS special that also mentioned nothing about this. Was this in fact true or something just made up as a convenient plot device for the movie? I'd like to know.
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