FILM / Director's Cut: Riddle of the sands: Lawrence Kasdan describes the identity crisis that provides the pivotal scene of Lawrence of Arabia

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
There is a moment in Lawrence of Arabia that I love. Lawrence has crossed the Sinai with two boys and has lost one. They reach the Suez Canal - he's going back to Cairo after taking Aqaba. He's covered with dust and has become the Arab he has always wanted to be, at great cost to himself. And a British officer on the other side of the Suez spots him and yells across: 'Who are you? Who are you?' That's the central question of the movie, perfectly stated in dramatic terms: the question that everybody has to answer. It's the question that interests me too: who we are, what kind of people we're going to be, how we define ourselves. It's central to Grand Canyon, but also to my first film - Body Heat is the story of a man who has to decide how to be: whether to live by his ideals or by his desires. That's the issue in all my movies.

The restored version of 'Lawrence of Arabia' has just been released on wide-screen video by Columbia. Lawrence Kasdan's 'Grand Canyon' continues to play around the country; his early film 'The Big Chill' has just been issued on sell-through video, also by Columbia.

(Photograph omitted)