Lawrence of Arabia (film)

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Date: 1937

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Film Video


Artist: Alexander Korda, Producer

Confronting Bodies: The British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) under pressure from the British Foreign Office.

Dates of Action: 1937

Location: England

Description of Artwork: A proposed film adaptation of T.E. Lawrence's Lawrence of Arabia exploits the revolt led against the Ottoman empire.

The Incident: It was common practice in the 1930's to seek approval from friendly countries when a script featured their activities. The Turkish Embassy in London protested the creation of the film on the grounds that the Turks were represented as tyrants and oppressors. The British Foreign Office could not legally stop the production of the film, but the did try to influence Korda to cancel the project. They toyed with ideas such as knighting him as a bribe, but ultimately chose to persuade the BBFC that the film would be problematic.

Results of Incident: In 1938, Korda was informed by the BBFC that in addition to major changes that would need to be made to the Turks, there was no guarantee that the producers of the film would be certified. Upon hearing a very negative outlook, Korda cancelled the film.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.