“You think I’m just an ordinary man do you?” – Lawrence of Arabia
In a 1989 interview with David Lean director of Lawrence of Arabia; he tells why he wanted to create the film: “It’s a really good story and I like good stories. I like good characters”, “It’s not far off a movie opera.”
The real-life Lawrence of Arabia was a man enshrined in myth and conspiracy theory. One example is his death by motorbike, which many people claimed to be a government operation. Adrian Turner Film Historian said in the documentary – “He couldn’t die in a motorcycling accident. There had to be conspiracy theories. When your that sort of celebrity by dying young you create a huge myth around yourself.”
Adrian Turner, points out a great phrase in T.E. Lawrence’s biography: “Backing into the Limelight”. Lawrence was a man who grave privacy, anonymity and yet, he loved to be famous. The reason why Lawrence of Arabia was made was because of the success of The Bridge of the River Kwai; also directed by David Lean.
Lean was soon asked by a producer Sam Spiegle, ” What other pictures have you got in mind?”
Costume Designer Phyllis Dalton explained that Peter O’Toole’s uniform was very deliberately contrived to look ill-fitted; she put it through the washing machine and shrank it, a bit more and battered it a bit more. This was very important for the character as it told the audience immediately that he was a…. “misfit”. She says what was amazing about it, when he got to wear the white robes was that he “fitted it” – he learned not to stand out like a sore thumb among the Arabs, and he looked as though he belonged.