The Legacy Of Lawrence Of Arabia Review: Arabian Knight
THE LEGACY OF LAWRENCE OF ARABIA: Saturday 16th January, BBC 2, 8pm ALERT ME
Having already had one history lesson this week, (Empire of The Sea), I wasn’t sure I wanted another.
But after five minutes of Rory Stewart’s look at T.E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia, I was hooked. This is the first half of a two part piece following the story of the mild mannered boy who grew into a classic British hero. Lawrence has always fascinated Stewart and after watching this show, it’s easy to see why.
Stewart’s own exploits have similarities to Lawrence’s, having both spent a considerable amount of time in Arab countries, Stewart relates to his hero on a personal level which makes this show all the more engaging. He’s not bogged down by meticulous facts and dates but interested in Lawrence’s character as well as his role in the shaping that part of the world. Describing Lawrence’s role in the Arab revolt, he positively glows with schoolboy hero worship.
There’s no doubt that Stewart is focusing on the romance of the Arab countries instead of violence and religious conflicts but it works like a charm. Despite footage of US soldiers, highlighting the shockingly accurate comparison between the US and the Middle East, it’s a breath of fresh air to see Stewart mixing with real people and learning how to live from them. A side we don’t often see.
The camera also revels in capturing the beautiful sandscapes of Arabia without turning in to a travelogue and gets a few particularly beautiful shots of the Great Temple at Petra.
While the level of interest is relatively high throughout, it could do with losing about 10 minutes as it does sag in some places but overall a fascinating look at a brave man. Part 2 should prove to be just as interesting. And it turns out that Stewart has a life as interesting as Lawrence himself; Brad Pitt has acquired the rights to make a movie of Stewart’s life.