Of course, he was the one who decided to drive too fast. And throughout the film the question of free will is played with. As Sharif Ali tells Lawrence, when he seems to have come back from the dead after trudging for days without water across the Sahara:
Truly, for some men nothing is written unless THEY write it.
Words for all of us, I suppose, although hard to live by. Nevertheless, they are particularly pertinent now. Lawrence of Arabia is a movie that seems a little bit different every time I see it, due to the changes in the world that have occurred. It is always great, but is great in different ways, the sign of a timeless work of art. At this point in history, we are in an era when the individual must act, exercise free will. Move forward to our own personal Aqabas. Or, as it goes in the movie:
Prince Feisal: Gasim’s time has come, Lawrence. It is written.
T.E. Lawrence: Nothing is written.
Sherif Ali: You will not be at Aqaba, English! Go back, blasphemer… but you will not be at Aqaba!
T.E. Lawrence: I shall be at Aqaba. That, IS written.
[pointing to forehead]
T.E. Lawrence: In here.
So I take my inspiration from Lawrence of Arabia. I could do worse. As for the astonishingly handsome Peter O’Toole, he was clearly one of the greatest actors of the modern era. He had many fine roles (The Stunt Man), but none so great as T. E. Lawrence, a character with whom he will be identified as long as celluloid is projected.
Roger L. Simon, PJ Media co-founder, is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. He is writing about this years’ Oscar contenders at City Journal.