Robert Pattinson is apparently going to take on the role of the legendary T.E. Lawrence in a new film titled Queen of the Desert. Sadly, that’s not a joke. RPattz will be the new Lawrence of Arabia. It’s official. Good grief.
Reportedly, it’s already a fait accompli–at least on paper. Pattinson AKA Edward Cullen in the Twilight Saga has been signed to portray one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century. T.E. Lawrence was the unknown British soldier whose almost literally unbelievable life story was filmed by David Lean in 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia. The good news is that Queen of the Desert, an indie film to be directed by Werner Herzog, is not the story of Lawrence’s life per se. The film is actually a biopic of Gertrude Bell, who will be portrayed by Naomi Watts.
Bell was a true feminist. She was of the first female Oxford grads, and as a cartographer, she travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, eventually “defining the borders of Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.” She was also a “writer, archaeologist, explorer, …and political attachÃ©” for what was, at the time, the British Empire. T. E. Lawrence and Bell were close friends, and they were both instrumental in establishing “the Hashemite dynasties in Jordan and Iraq.”
Herzog’s film about Gertrude Bell sounds like a fascinating and worthwhile project. The casting of the Cosmopolis man as T.E. Lawrence, not so much. With all due respect to Pattinson, T. E. Lawrence was a complex, mercurial, and ultimately psychologically elusive figure. Peter O’Toole’s almost frighteningly intense and powerful portrayal of the man still stands as the definitive celluloid portrait of Lawrence, and it always will. In 1990, Ralph Fiennes did a decent enough job as Lawrence in the smaller, less visually spectacular film, A Dangerous Man. With all due respect to RPattz, he’s not Ralph Fiennes. And comparing him to the youthful Peter O’Toole is almost sacrilegious.
Nevertheless, twihards had better prepare themselves for the sight of a bleached blond Robert Pattinson clad in flowing white robes galumphing across the sands on a camel. Enjoy it. then go rent the DVDs of Lawrence of Arabia and/or A Dangerous Man.
Better yet, read Lawrence’s book about his experiences in Arabia. It’s titled The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Note: Maybe RPattz just wants to be on location in a place where he won’t run into Kristen Stewart.
Â© Hope Carson 2012
Hope Carson is the author of 2 books: A Roaring Girl: An Interview with the Thinking Man’s Hooker and A Thousand and One Night Stands: The Life of Jon Vincent. You can follow her on Twitter.