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General Allenby's Entry into Jerusalem

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General Allenby's Entry into Jerusalem

A legend in the making: the first film glimpse of the man who would become Lawrence of Arabia

Non-Fiction 1918 5 mins

Overview

The name in the title of this newsreel belongs to General Allenby, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army's Egyptian Expeditionary Force and the man who led the conquest of Jerusalem, ending centuries of Ottoman rule. But there's no doubting the real star for us today: a then-unknown Thomas Edward Lawrence, later immortalised as Lawrence of Arabia. This is probably the first of Lawrence's very few appearances on film, and it would prove pivotal in building his legend.

That's despite the fact that hero of the Arab Revolt appears fleetingly just twice, in his British Army uniform. A man of modest height (1.66m), he's some way behind the leaders during the ceremonial march into the city (visible for about two seconds from 1:45). He's rather easier to spot in an earlier shot outside the city walls (from 1:34 to 1:46): in the middle distance towards the left of the frame, he twice looks directly at a camera that his comrades seem not to notice. The film was taken on 11 December 1917, two days after Jerusalem fell, and screened the following February as a special extended edition of Pictorial News (Official), Topical Budget. Lawrence obscurity was then almost absolute - but not for much longer.