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In Prometheus, while the other members of the crew are in hibernation, David busies himself watching Lawrence of Arabia. He seems so obsessed by the film and the eponymous character that he imitates Lawrence's lines and even copies his hairstyle.

What is the director trying to tell us here?

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    Because it's a bad a** film that's why!!!111 Seriously though, it's one of the greatest film works of all time, as well as being semi-biographical. Some claim that almost every scene in Lawrence of Arabia is drawn from a real life event. – Mark Rogers Jun 8 '12 at 14:38
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    here is the secret to enjoying Lawrence of Arabia : when you get to all the parts where they are riding through the desert for like 10 minute stretches, just skip through those parts. It turns a 3+ hour movie into a <2 hour movie, and makes it far more enjoyable!! – zipquincy Jun 11 '12 at 19:00
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    @zipquincy: Blasphemy! The scenic shots are the best parts of the movie IMHO. Really spectacular. – Raven13 Jun 11 '12 at 20:48
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    Until recently, I had avoided Lawrence because of all the jokey references to its length and tedium. Prometheus, and the discussion about David's obsession with the film, changed my mind. If you haven't seen Lawrence of Arabia, please give it a try. It helps to break it down into roughly one hour segments. The film is rich in texture and detail. – ObscureRobot Jun 18 '12 at 5:34
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    @ObscureRobot: “It helps to break it down into roughly one hour segments.” Dearie me, you kids and your internet-ravaged attention spa- hey look, this site has a newsletter! Lawrence was originally shown with an interval at the halfway point, which I think is maintained in DVD releases. I needed a bit of a rest at that point. – Paul D. Waite Apr 20 '13 at 21:23
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I saw it as David identifying with T.E. Lawrence who, in the film at least, was shown as being conflicted in his identity - and perhaps his loyalty - between the British and Arabian cultures. I imagine David felt betwixt and between, being both humanlike but not actually human. I briefly considered the masochist subtext to Lawrence's character, but...no.

Edit - Found this:

David has been watching Lawrence of Arabia while the crew of Prometheus was in stasis for two years, why that movie?

Lindelof: Ridley and I started talking about Lawrence of Arabia, for some reason, very early on in our process. I'm a huge David Lean fan — we were talking about The Bridge on the River Kwai and then Peter O'Toole etc. etc. we just started saying oh what if David was just obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia? Why would he be obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia, and i think the short answer was: Lawrence is a stranger in a strange land. A white man who is entirely different, ultimately becomes the most pivotal figure in that movie, independent of his differences. That felt slightly analogical to what we wanted to do with David.

Source (io9.com) - thanks to Thaddeus for posting the link in this thread

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It's a personal tribute of Ridley Scott to one of his favorite films

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    You are no doubt correct .... but do you have a reference for this? – iandotkelly Jun 11 '12 at 0:32
  • Peter Weyland also mentions T.E. Lawrence in his 2023 TED speech. – Lèse majesté Jun 29 '13 at 16:07

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