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Lawrence of ArabiaA Film's Anthropology$
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Steven Caton

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780520210820

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520210820.001.0001

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(p.200) Chapter 6 Maskulinities
Lawrence of Arabia

Steven C. Caton

University of California Press

This chapter examines the war hero of Lawrence of Arabia and his questionable status, which has something to do with sexuality and masculinity. It determines that it is Peter O'Toole's performance that proves to be crucial in understanding the treatment of these themes. It then explains the complexity of gender in this film, which is partly due to the cultural climate of the late 1950s and early 1960s, where the dominant modes of masculinity were being questioned. This chapter also argues that O'Toole's androgynous performance, along with his introspective and sensitive characterization, allowed an identification of him as a woman. It shows that this film is powerful precisely in the way it talks about homosexuality ambiguously and obliquely.

Keywords:   sexuality, masculinity, gender, cultural climate, modes of masculinity, androgynous performance, homosexuality

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