Friday, May 31, 2013

Lawrence of Arabia - killed by bad cyclists!

I'm in the process of watching "Lawrence of Arabia." I saw it as a young child in the movie theater; this is the first time since. I got the Blu-Ray - it looks and sounds fantastic! (It goes almost 4 hours - I've made it to intermission. I don't get many 4-hour time slots.)

Lawrence of Arabia! Legendary British war hero, who thrived in forbidding circumstances, survived daunting desert treks, cemented alliances between Arabs and "westerners"!

At the very beginning of the movie, he dusts off his Brough Superior motorcycle, pulls on his goggles, and heads enthusiastically down the winding 2-lane road. (Riding on the left side of the center stripe - this is Great Britain, after all.) He comes over a hill and encounters 2 bike riders, meandering down the wrong side of the road, straight toward him! He skids and wobbles - and you hear the sickening sounds of crunching metal. The next scenes are of his funeral.

Apparently the movie portrayal is at least somewhat accurate. Wikipedia says, "At the age of 46, two months after leaving military service, Lawrence was fatally injured in an accident on his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle in Dorset, close to his cottage ... A dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on their bicycles; he swerved to avoid them, lost control and was thrown over the handlebars. He died six days later..."

Perhaps his death wasn't totally in vain; the Wikipedia continues: "One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns who consequently began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists."

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