After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
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
Various members of the film's crew portrayed minor characters. First assistant director Roy Stevens played the truck driver who transports Lawrence and Farraj to the Cairo HQ at the end of Act I; the Sergeant who stops Lawrence and Farraj ("Where do you think you're going to, Mustapha?") is construction assistant, Fred Bennett; and screenwriter Robert Bolt has a wordless cameo as one of the officers watching Allenby and Lawrence confer in the courtyard (he is smoking a pipe). Steve Birtles, the film's gaffer, plays the motorcyclist at the Suez Canal; David Lean himself is rumoured to be the voice shouting "Who are you?" Finally, continuity girl Barbara Cole appears as one of the nurses in the Damascus hospital scene. See more »
At several points in the movie, Turkish soldiers are shown using Browning Model 1919A6 .30 caliber air-cooled machine guns. The Browning 1919 first entered service in 1919, too late to have been used in WWI. The Turks would have been using German Maxim machine guns. At other times, they are shown using Short-Magazine Lee-Enfield rifles which were standard issue to the British Empire forces. The Turks would, in all likelihood, have been carrying German Mausers. See more »
I first saw this movie on a scratchy VHS almost twenty years ago (I was 10). Liked it (sort of-enjoyed the battle scenes and the train blowing up), but didn't understand why my dad was so crazy about it.
The next time was on laserdisc (remember those?) almost 10 years ago and I was hooked. I finally got it - the conflict, the performances, the music, the dialogue - all mesmerising.
But it was only in 2002, when I saw the 40th-anniversary reissue on 70mm that I was completely blown away seeing the scale, the enormity of Lean's accomplishment. There were scenes that gave me goosepimples (the opening credits, the cut from the matchstick to the desert sunrise, "nothing is written" - others too numerous to mention).
The point of this rather rambling review is this - a movie that can evoke such passion in its admirers stands by itself, beyond reviews or criticism. If you haven't seen it yet I envy you, because you get to experience it for the first time.
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