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Lawrence of (Hollywood's farfetched) Arabia

While its runtime (3h 48m) may seem fatal, Lawrence of Arabia continues to leave audiences curious about the history of our region, and more importantly, captivated by the camels, Bedouins, and rose-colored dunes of Jordan. This film is, without a doubt, the epitome of Orientalism, a concept investigated and verbalized by professor Edward Said: "Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings" (Culture and Imperialism). In cinema, Western interpretations of the East have often been translated through "exotic" costumes, dramatized war scenes, decorative Shishas and overly sexualized Harems that appeal to the male gaze (arguably the stimulus of all Hollywood cinema). Although I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone that seeks an accurate and detailed narration of the history of Jordan and the British Empire, David Lean does capture the mesmerizingly unique deserts of Jordan in ways that have caused audiences to keep coming back to this film time and time again. Supporting local filmmakers that aim to accurately (keyword: accurately) portray our heritage is a crucial step to take to combat biases and exaggerations of our culture! I would recommend Theeb, a film by Naji Abu Nowar, released in 2015. Abu Nowar is a British-Jordanian director that shot the movie in Jordan and also has (accurately) captured the beauty and heritage of Bedouins and their lives in the Sahra.


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