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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lawrence of Arabia is oftentimes listed as one of the greatest films of
all time. Not only that, but many say Peter O'Toole's performance as
T.E. Lawrence is the greatest piece of acting ever to be captured on
screen as well. Being that the movie was made 45 years ago, I wasn't
going into it thinking I would agree with either statement necessarily.
Whether the four hour run time was too daunting to get my hopes up or
not, I knew that no matter what, I needed to finally see this film. I
was going to go for the ride from Cairo to the Middle East along with
the band of Arab tribes trying to take back their land from the Turks.
On a technical level, Lawrence of Arabia has few equals. Director David Lean has created something with true epic focus. There are no advanced computer graphics multiplying fake people into huge battle scenes, this had to be done with real extras, sweltering in the desert heat waiting for their opportunity to fight amongst the movie's stars. The scope is wide and Lean is never afraid to show the desert as a desolate wasteland because the shots are beautiful to behold. The British didn't understand what Lawrence saw in the sand, but viewing the landscape shots here, the audience can see the tranquility and beauty that it truly holds. This was a big-budget movie and it shows by the settings besides the desert. When we arrive in Cairo and see the excess with which the soldiers live; its affluence is on display. Not only by the material objects, but also by the soldiers' utter ambivalence to the fight while their Arab counterparts are trekking through the sun-ravaged desert to claim victory.
It is this juxtaposition between the British forces and Arab fighters that backbone the film. Yes, T.E. Lawrence is the focal point and his journey from army outcast to Arab liberator is the story arc we follow, but it is the fact that he tries to live in both worlds which really defines the course of actions on display. Credit does have to go to Peter O'Toole for his ability to grow his character throughout and display the emotion and conflict living inside him. Lawrence saw an opportunity to help the Arab tribes regain control of their land despite Britain's refusal to give them artillery. Even at this early moment, he might have suspected this lack of true support as a sign of future motives, but he was so focused on his cause and the fact that he could do anything he set his mind to, he just didn't care. When he finally succeeds with his first mission, he returns a broken man, having killed and seen things he never wanted to see. He knew it was all for the best, though, and needed to stick by his word of setting his new friends into a free land. Only when the men at Cairo, who once laughed at his expense, praise him with accolades and promotions does Lawrence first start becoming a man without a clear purpose. A man that was accepted by no one now finds himself loved by two distinct cultures, and must somehow cope with the success or eventually fall as a result.
Besides the excellent performance by O'Tooleintense, sarcastically humorous, and heartbreakingly real throughoutwe are also treated to an acting clinic from the supporting players. Omar Sharif is fantastic as the Arab Sheriff Ali who agrees to accompany Lawrence on his suicide mission to take a Turkish outpost. Sharif gives Ali a realistic progression from a man who cannot see a white man surviving anything in their future, to one who would follow Lawrence into Hell if asked. Anthony Quinn is also great as Auda abu Tayi, a leader of a tribe that can be bought by whoever offers most. His interactions with O'Toole are some of the best moments in the film because Lawrence always knows what to say to persuade Auda into doing something for his own interests and not for monetary gain, (although he still likes to take something as a souvenir for his troubles). Even Alec Guinness brings an effective performance despite playing an Arab Prince. There are many moments where the allusions to his later Obi-Wan Kenobi character come through making me smile, but the accent is hidden nicely into a British educated Arab speech that helps me forget he is as much an Englishmen as O'Toole is Irish.
In the end, however, it is the story which truly leaves a mark. During the runtime, I was slowly seeing some redundancies and wondering if an hour could have easily been chopped off without a second glance. Disappointment was setting in and I was thinking I might have to give it a 7 or 8 rating as a whole. Once the final scenes play out though, you realize why we needed everything that came before. It is Lawrence's success in battle that both leave him broken but also ripe for persuasion into continuing on. The British were looking for a way to have Arabs do the work but eventually swoop in and take the Middle East for themselves, and with Lawrence, they had their man to rally the troops. Lawrence was neither British nor Arab, but instead a man beyond his dreams and ideals. The Arab tribes would never be able to live in harmony for a peaceful unity, and the British were just waiting for the implosion to occur. When all is said and done, Lawrence realizes he is not the God that people, and himself, saw him as, but a pawn that has been played from the beginning. His sanity and drive for good is sucked out of him because while it seemed he was accepted by both worlds, he really didn't belong to either.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hard to believe that after 45 years of loving movies, I finally got around to seeing Lawrence of Arabia. As with many films that make a huge impact on me, I dreamt about it that night. I dreamt of flowing white silk robes, decorated horses and sand. Lots of sand. Many have already given a synopsis and cast list, many have listed the films assets. For me, after the experience (and trust me, at 227 minutes, it's an experience) I was left feeling stunned and empty, stunned by the depiction of the desert, empty from the realization that nothing within the dark expanses of human experience really changes. Yes to one reviewer who was not sure Lawrence ever existed. He did. A very complicated man, shy yet full of an odd bravado, Lawrence reveled in the drama of a land he loved but could not be part of. He sought adventure and when it came, was overwhelmed and ultimately disappointed that his life was not like the childhood adventure tales he undoubtedly read. The film tells his story in broad strokes, very strong characters surround Lawrence, whose character is played brilliantly by O'Toole who stays quietly charismatic (as well as physically beautiful) creating an enigma that is never really understood. You're left wondering how the hell he got away with what he did, yet amazed that it happened. The futility of war is tempered with the romanticism it creates. People come together in common causes, strong relationships develop, heroes emerge. Wars are full of such scenarios and inspirational tales. But this is at heart the story of a film flam game, a bait and switch played on a grand scale with an Empirical Western giant manipulating desperate peoples using one of their flamboyant yet influential soldiers as a ploy. This con game was the undoing of T. E. Lawrence and he spent the rest of his life in guilt, trying to escape his fame, changing his name, reluctant to accept profits from his memoirs and wondering if the adventure had been worth it.
Lawrence has been the finest and most memorable film I have ever seen
even edging out such classics as Gone with the Wind, Gandhi,Raging
Bull, Unforgiven and Dances with Wolves. Firstly-in my opinion David
Lean was the greatest film director of all time. He had a superb true
story,fantastic locations,a great cameraman, a totally mesmerising
score and a PERFECT cast. The movie had everything except humour which
was not suitable. I shed more tears in THIS movie than almost any other
at the way Lawrence was used and abused(literally in one episode)for
the interests? of the British and French but certainly not for the
Arabs and the future of the Middle East. There were more individual
memorable and moving scenes in Lawrence than I can remember in any
other. The one where Daud died in a quicksand was truly heartbreaking.
I have seen Lawrence four times and I would watch it again!
From this film's startling beginning right through to its end, this
film is a genuine masterpiece and the greatest film I have ever seen.
It is stunning, beautiful, breathtaking, stupendous, brilliant, awesomely made and incomparable with almost anything that has gone before or after. The film follows the World War One escapades of the eponymous Lawrence as he fights for the Arabs, and struggles across miles of desert.
There are so many people to be credited for the brilliance of this film, the film that is Steven Spielberg's favourite film of all time. Peter O'Toole's performance is incredible. He brings a mixture of arrogance, humanity and terrifying insanity to his performance. He is brilliantly supported by all of the cast but chiefly by Guinness, Quinn, Sharif and Quayle, who all produce performances of fantastic calibre.
There is also Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson who produced a fantastic script which create so many layers for the enigmatic central layers. Then there is F.A. Young's spectacular cinematography, which is quite probably the most beautiful that has ever been produced. There is also Maurice Jarre's brilliantly memorable score with one of the most famous themes that has ever been composed.
But the one person who is to be acclaimed the most for this wondrous achievement is the director, David Lean. His control of this fantastic picture is outstanding and his resultant creation is unbelievable.
A true achievement, spectacular and a must see, Lawrence of Arabia will blow you away.
Along with "The Third Man" and "Lost in Translation", this is my
all-time favorite movie. "Lawrence" is one of those movies that is
ageless, in another word, gets better with each viewing. The film is
simply amazing, that holds few shortcomings. It has amazing shots of
the "clean" desert, Dirction by David Lean (whose known for his scale
in directing), great performances, and most of all, one of the best of
scripts all time (were talking about a script that stands next to
Casablanca's in greatness).
This movie is understated, and I am especially appalled that this movie is #28 on the "IMDB top 250" (especially considering that it ranked # 5 in AFI's top 100 movies). This is THE epic, and in saying that, also one of the best movies of all time.
I saw the Restoration version of "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1989 at a
local big screen theatre in surround sound. It was a thrilling
experience that I will always cherish. I made the 9 mile walk home that
night, beginning after midnight, and I felt as though I had been to
Arabia on some dream-like cloud. I walked on air all the way home.
The greatest film of all time hardly needs more words from me, but this film should be owned and seen on a regular basis just so as to remind one's self what great cinematic movie-making is all about.
Sir David Lean's effort was not wasted. This WWI history was brilliantly told and the equal of it will never be seen again! This film was greater in scope and cinematography than "Bridge on the River Kwai." I wonder why filmmakers of today do not set their standards higher so they can produce decent works of art. Perhaps they know they cannot achieve such a high standard for themselves so they just give up and produce worthless drivel that no one wants to see.
It's a shame but perhaps one day soon something will happen to revive the mystique of the past in movie making. We can only hope it will happen and it cannot be too soon.
I should probably throw on a pair of asbestos overalls if I plan to
insult the classics. It just needs to be said that the old movies are
I tried liking the Manchurian Candidate, but it didn't get my heart racing. Citizen Kane almost put me to sleep. Even some of the newer "must-sees" like Marathon Man were less than appealing.
But finally, I can give an solid 8 out of 10 to a classic movie. While Lawrence's running time has put a dent in my free time, I can honestly say that the adventurous story was well worth watching. There were grand scenes and great fights. While melodramatic in some parts, most of the acting was good.
Lawrence of Arabia is the best classic I've watched so far. I recommend it to anyone who's a fan of the epic adventure movies.
One sure thing about this masterpiece it was done with great love for
the subject, characters, place & the people of Arabia.
David lean spent nearly 2 years in filming this picture, and the result = the greatest masterpiece in film history.
The majestic landscape of the Arabian Peninsula combined with the majestic music by the genius Maurice jarred with a director vision, the combination of these three elements is a rare commodity through out the history of movie making.
I believe that David Lean actually fell in love with the Arab and became another T.E. Lawrence. Practically, you can not do such marvelous work without great love and devotion.
You probably saw a lot of the desert flicks, and I am sure most of them are stinkers. Because they lack a major value, respect to the natives and their way of life, I cant say that Lawrence of Arabia praised the Arabs, but he gave more than any film I can remember a wide range of characters that covers the whole human spectrum in any society, it do not have that cheap attitude towards the Arab as human beings as most of Hollywood films does.
The 2 years spent in the desert played a major role in realistically studying the natural Bedouins in their natural environment and to learn their customs, manners and even their body language, this was obvious in the acting, also using real Bedouins as extras gave the film its distinguished flavor. The costumes was something I always admire in this move, the way they show the Arabic dress is dignifying, its not like those fantasy costumes that Hollywood uses frequently even in modern cinema (hidalgo for example).
I think modern cinema lost its magic, although they are trying very hard not to, but they couldn't figure it out. its very simple the human factor is lost. Its not any more important like before, I can go further in saying actors became shallow, their real life is shallow and artificial and this is the human dilemma, the more technologically advanced and materially we become the less humans we became.
Life is soul, and you can not pump life in a dead body.
Cinema as an art form is losing its soul, I think the cinema will be revived but it needs another people that still did not lose their innocence and souls.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I finally decided to watch the classic Lawrence of Arabia in my attempt
to catch up on film classics I have never seen. Now I don't for one
minute intend on talking down about this film. It is easy to see why
Lawrence of Arabia stands the test of time as a classic. The absolutely
stunning breathtaking cinematography, the incredible 'would be' special
effects that probably had to be done with man power and the thousands
and thousands of extras used in stunning battle scenes and traveling
across the desert. You can't get more spectacular than the scenery in
this film. Hands down a huge 10/10 for what they did with the cast and
scenery. The story is simple enough and based on a true story of World
War II British soldier who finds himself conflicted on who he is truly
fighting for when he becomes entangled with the Bedouin armies of
Arabia. I also realize that this is an epic and that being said and
being filmed in the sixties, historical epics were known to be lavish
productions. I watched this film on a 2 disk DVD and at the end of the
first DVD I was so pleased, I almost wanted to watch it again and again
and slap a perfect score on it. I would have been just as happy to have
it end right there. But as it turned out there was another disk with an
hour and a half on it adding the total running time to an outstanding 3
1/2 hours and I have nothing against that unless it's not necessary. I
found the last part of this film very unnecessary, it dragged, it
bogged down the story and I found it quite confusing. Yes I understand
that it brought about T.E. Lawrence's conflicted opinions about the war
but it just almost felt like an anti-climax and sadly brought the film
down for me.
Veteran actor in his screen debut Peter O'Toole plays Lawrence. I think O'Toole perfectly captures everything Lawrence was meant to stand for. O'Toole as Lawrence is conceited, young, naive, bull headed, and has great delusions of grandeur which he uses to win over the Arabians. On top of these less than desirable traits Lawrence has incredible charisma and leadership qualities and O'Toole is the same way. At first he seems almost smug and monotone but the more you watch him the more he electrifies the screen and you become enamored with him. I don't know if that's talent of a gift but either way he makes the film what it is. The incredible Sir Alec Guinness plays Prince Feisal, the leader of one faction of the Arabian army who leaves his men to the trust of Lawrence after becoming enamored with him. It's not a big role but when Guinness is on screen he makes it larger than life. Anthony Quinn is the opposite leader Auda abu Tayi whom Lawrence brings together with Feisal's men to take Damascus away from the Turkish army. Quinn is much like Guinness who doesn't need a lot of screen time to make an impression. They are both worthy of royalty. And Omar Sharif is brilliant and intelligent as Sheriff Ali who becomes Lawrence's wing man and friend.
The cast are all brilliant together, the story is of epic proportions and the direction which was Academy Award winning by David Lean is nothing short of brilliance. It might possibly be one of the best directed films I have ever seen. It's simply breath taking. But so much extra is added that I'm just not sure it was necessary. Lawrence becomes so conflicted and ends up leaving them and it just seems to contradict everything he had done. Perhaps I am just being petty about it and I didn't like the ending but nonetheless the last hour and a half was too much for me. Still I don't regret for a minute seeing it and I encourage everyone to see this because even now it's spectacular to watch, imagine how it felt more than 40 years ago. 8.5/10
Majestic isn't a term I would apply to many films, but "Lawrence of Arabia" deserves it. So brilliant on so many levels, acting, screenplay, photography, costume design, set decoration and above all direction. David Lean is by far my favorite director and his influence can be seen in countless other films. Peter O'Toole is by far my favorite actor and this is probably his greatest performance, although The Ruling Class is equally stunning. If you would like some insight into the huge mess in the Middle East, this is one film you must watch. Martin Scorsese commented that "Lawrence" could never be made today. I agree but for different reasons. I do not think there is any director alive today who has the insight, the patience or the work ethic that was needed to make "Lawrence" Devoting millions of dollars to an intelligent historic epic would also be something that today's movie makers would never venture into. David Lean was one of the last of a dying breed of precise filmmakers (Kubrick being the other) that went to any lengths and expense to get just the right shot.
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