MovieChat Forums > Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Discussion > Why show him dying at the beginning ?

Why show him dying at the beginning ?


I don't understand why they chose to show him dying, in such an elaborate manner, at the very beginning of the film. They take you through this 5 minute,up close, anonymous motorcycle ride (we don't it is him yet),that ends in tragedy. They could have just inserted it, more appropriately, at the end, it seems to me.
It would have had more pathos at the end, after all he has gone through, and we see him die in a silly accident. Was it just a wide screen, cinerama kind of thing, to get your attention..?

RSGRE

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It's called artistic license.

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Arm chair directing a classic? Seems kinda stupid to me.

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- To establish his personality in a creative way - recklessly driving his bike through the English countryside.
- To establish his fame and importance by the number of dignitaries at his funeral.
- To show that he was a controversial figure (judging by the disparate opinions) that no one really knew. Hence, setting up the film as an exploration of an enigma.

I'm afraid that you underestimate the number of subjects in which I take an interest!

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Apt post, Hancock.
Other posters try to keep in mind, even in my boyhood, dare I say about 50 years ago, LoA was very much known to my generation, through tales at home,school. A very British hero, iconic, which he was and remains.
Thus, we knew some of his story, and most certainly how he died.Perhaps the director back when the film was made assumed a large part of his audiences would also know some part of the man's biography and the story of his tragic and fatal accident.

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Thanks for you comments everyone. The same station showed "Gandhi" last night, and it begins with his assassination too, seems counter productive. I saw another film years ago about him called,"Nine Hours to Rama" (or something like that) that ended with him being killed...seemed more logical and effective.

RSGRE

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Unless I'm mistaken, that film is specifically about Gandhi's assassination, so it would make sense if it's the climax. This movie isn't about Lawrence's death, which occurred decades after the story's main event.

I'm afraid that you underestimate the number of subjects in which I take an interest!

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Hancock is correct.

Consider Citizen Kane - begins with his death, discusses his life and influence, then uses flashbacks of other characters' memories to tell Kane's story.

Here we are privy to some opinions of the characters at Lawrence's funeral then we see the story as a whole in one giant flashback á la Gandhi.


"Baby, I don't care."

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Thanks for your comments everyone, well, in "Citizen Kane" he does die at the beginning but we get the "fake newsreel" to "fill in the blanks". (Incidentally, have never read any comments about that "fake newsreel", seems to go over everyone's head. It is one of the most brilliant scenes in the film. Did everyone think it was "real" ??). "9 Hours to Rama" was about Ghandhi's death, and the ending was very poignant. The assassin suddenly realizes too late, that he has killed an honorable man. I guess my point is: 99% of the audience already know he is dead, so why tell us at the beginning how he died ? Leave that to the end...I say...

RSGRE

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The film shows Lawrence's death "twice."

Physically he dies during a motorcycle accident when we know nothing about him, much like the dignitaries at his funeral. At the end when we better understand his character, he sees several men riding on camels, and soon after an officer similarly riding on a motorcycle, likening the motorcycle (which we already know is associated with his death) to the camels of Arabia. Lawrence dies metaphorically when the war in Arabia ends and the country fails to unite.

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Ingmar,

Yes, I agree with the observation tying in the motorcyclist seen at the very end with Lawrence's death at the beginning. And that the film here was making the thematic point that the general condition of Lawrence at the time of his death - alone, tragic, pointless - was presaged by the way he felt in failing to unite the arabs, followed by his leaving to go back to England. But that's the film. In reality his life was much more complicated than that. Having said that it is not too far from the truth that at the time of his death he was leading a life that was rather solitary if not completely so.

I also agree with Hancock's observation that at the time the film was released your average person knew a great deal more about Lawrence in real life than, well, the OP seems to know. Including that he died accidentally.

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I think it showed that Lawrence is a mortal person in the beginning because the "miracles" shown later would be appreciated much more

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... sequel "Lawrence of Arabia II: T.E.s' Revenge."

"It's the system, Lara. People will be different after the Revolution."

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To get it out of the way, so the audience can focus on his life.
We all know how he died.

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Thats definitely part of it. If that scene had been moved to the end, it would have implied that the entire movie was building up to that final scene and his death. By putting it at the start, the director gets to choose exactly how they want to end the movie.

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Oh dear, lack of a strictly chronological storyline does trouble you, doesn't it? That would've been the most obvious, unimaginative way of doing it.

Do you really not get the logic? The movie starts with a bang, the motorcycle death. Then we hear the differing posthumous assessments of this enigmatic man from those who knew him - "extraordinary", "shameless", etc. The rest of the film gives us Lawrence in all his facets and explains why those who knew him responded in the various ways they did. Well-structured storytelling - Bolt knew what he was doing.

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I think the film showing Lawrence's death early on, how he died, all the talk about him afterwards, while confusing to some, and in a sense "giving the game away", I don't think it is (confusing, I mean), and it gives away little. A brilliant framing device, a masterful way to start the picture, it sets up a long and epic film beautifully, and it makes the ending feel all the more, well, maybe not spiritual; larger than life.

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