Apart from the fact that Alec Guinness played an Arab prince living in the desert in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) fifteen years before he played a Jedi Knight living in the desert in Star Wars (1977), we don’t normally tend to associate T.E. Lawrence with outer space. After all, Lawrence, who famously led the Arab revolt against the Turks during World War I, died in 1935, two decades before the launch of the first artificial satellite in 1957. But a new video about the Hubble telescope and the previously-unknown galaxies discovered by it brought a passage from one of Lawrence’s memoirs to mind.
There are two kinds of films that Roland Emmerich specializes in: the city-smashing disaster epic, as seen in Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998), The Day after Tomorrow (2004) and 2012 (2009); and smaller, nuttier quasi-historical films like The Patriot (2000), 10,000 BC (2008) and Anonymous (2011).
So it is with a certain inevitable trepidation that I greet the news that Emmerich is producing a six-hour mini-series about T.E. Lawrence, the British soldier who is known to the world as “Lawrence of Arabia”.
Thankfully, the series does seem to have at least one serious biographer on its side, said person being Michael Korda, author of the 2010 book Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. So maybe that will help rein in some of Emmerich’s crazier impulses.