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Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Biography, Drama  |  11 December 1962 (UK)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 177,610 users   Metascore: 100/100
Reviews: 546 user | 176 critic | 7 from Metacritic.com

Follows a brilliant, flamboyant and controversial British military figure and his conflicted loyalties during wartime service.



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Top Rated Movies #84 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 22 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Turkish Bey (as Jose Ferrer)
I.S. Johar ...
Gamil Ratib ...
Michel Ray ...
John Dimech ...
Zia Mohyeddin ...


An inordinately complex man who has been labeled everything from hero, to charlatan, to sadist, Thomas Edward Lawrence blazed his way to glory in the Arabian desert, then sought anonymity as a common soldier under an assumed name. The story opens with the death of Lawrence in a motorcycle accident in Dorset at the age of 46, then flashbacks to recount his adventures: as a young intelligence officer in Cairo in 1916, he is given leave to investigate the progress of the Arab revolt against the Turks in World War I. In the desert, he organizes a guerrilla army and--for two years--leads the Arabs in harassing the Turks with desert raids, train-wrecking and camel attacks. Eventually, he leads his army northward and helps a British General destroy the power of the Ottoman Empire. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


After five years... the first motion picture from the creators of "The Bridge On The River Kwai." Columbia Pictures presents The Sam Spiegel - David Lean Production of ..... See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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Release Date:

11 December 1962 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Lawrence de Arabia  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$32,930 (USA) (4 October 2002)


$6,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut) | (1970 re-release) | (original) | (premiere) | (restored roadshow)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording) (70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints) (original version)| (magnetic prints) (35 mm) (original version)



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


Musically, Maurice Jarre was hired to write the dramatic score, Aram Khachaturyan was handling the eastern themes and Benjamin Britten was to provide the British imperial music. Neither Khatchaturian or Britten were able to properly get involved so Sam Spiegel hired Richard Rodgers to fill in the musical gaps. When Spiegel and Lean heard Rodgers' compositions, they were hugely disappointed, so they turned to Jarre to see what he had done. The minute Lean heard Jarre's now-classic theme, he knew they had the right composer. Jarre was given the job of scoring the whole film - in a mere six weeks. See more »


In the opening scene he is riding a motorcycle at high speeds, but his hair does not get swept back as it would at high speeds. See more »


[first lines]
Colonel Brighton: He was the most extraordinary man I ever knew.
Vicar at St. Paul's: Did you know him well?
Colonel Brighton: I knew him.
Vicar at St. Paul's: Well nil nisi bonum. But did he really deserve a place here?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits read: Introducing Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence. However, O'Toole had already played very noticeable roles in two feature-length films, the Disney 1960 version of Kidnapped (1960), and The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1960). See more »


Referenced in The Apprentice: Ahab's in Charge, and He's Gone Mad (2013) See more »


End Title
Music by Maurice Jarre
Performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Maurice Jarre
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Simultaneously personal and panoramic
23 May 2004 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Sweeping, epic and literate version of British adventurer and soldier T E Lawrence's experiences in Arabia during the First World War. Lawrence, miraculously well played by Peter O'Toole, "went native" when sent into the desert to find Alec Guinness's Prince Feisal. Before long he was striking out himself against the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which still held sway in the region at the beginning of the last century. Lawrence's efforts to unify the various Arab factions are particularly prescient.

Lawrence became an inspirational warlord whose neutral presence amongst the Arab tribes, lead by Omar Sharif and Anthony Quinn, amongst others, served to glue together shifting and uneasy alliances. As well as wrestling with himself, with his own demons, and with the cruel desert environment, the Englishman was also faced with culture clashes which pitted not only the imperialists against the indigenous populations, but also the mercenary practices of the Arab guerillas against the discipline of the British army. In the end, Lawrence himself does not know which side he is on, nor which party he belongs to. Set against a backdrop of the Arabian desert, the nomadic allies under Lawrence's direction, attack and disrupt the Turks' efforts to maintain control of the territory, whilst the elephant - the British army and its heavy guns under General Jack Hawkins - pushes ever deeper into the area: not until his job is done does Lawrence learn that the French and British governments have carved up the middle-east between them and that the battle-lines for the 21st century are already being drawn.

Scripted by the inimitable Robert Bolt and directed by David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia is one of those films without a weakness, despite drawing complaints for its near four hour length. The dialogue, cinematography, soundtrack and especially direction are superlative; likewise the supporting actors. But it is O'Toole at his charismatic best who steals the show in his starring debut; he never looked back. It may take an effort to watch this movie, but is well worth the ride and will, by the bye, provide some insight into the fractious and volatile world of Arab politics.

One of the best films ever made.

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