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Epic biography of English colonel TE Lawrence who led the Arab revolt
against the Turks during World War One.
My candidate for greatest movie ever made. Superbly crafted in every way; sterling performances from the cast, a literate script by Robert Bolt, dazzling camera work by Freddie Young, detailed production design by John Box and a beautiful music score by Maurice Jarre. It is all seamlessly assembled together by director David Lean in a masterwork.
The story follows Lawrence's un-military like beginning as a mapmaker in Cairo at the start of the war and his subsequent mission for the Arab bureau to report on the Arab revolt in the desert. While there, he gets the factional tribes to unite and gradually assumes command leading them on a series of daring military raids against the Turks which lead to his fame and legend.
Then unknown, Peter O'Toole plays the lead and carries the film in a star making performance. He is ably supported by newcomer Omar Sharif in a large supporting role and a who's who list of seasoned performers. Claude Rains as a dapper politician, Alec Guinness as Prince Feisal and Anthony Quinn as a fierce Arab warrior, Auda come off best but there is really not a false note in the entire group - everyone is solid.
Leans previous editing experience is also on frequent display in the film as he composes his shots with the discerning eye of an editor and it shows in almost every scene; blowing out the match and transitioning to the rising desert sun, the dazzling motorcycle ride thru the English countryside during the opening sequence, Sheriff Ali's mirage-like emergence from the desert at the water well - its just one great scene after another.
It is also a rare film that while epic in scale it never loses the intimate details of the characters or story - always holding your attention despite a length of almost four hours. The story itself still maintains relevance as it shows the factional nature of the middle east who's countryman are able to unite during war against a common enemy but can't keep it together while at peace.
Anyway, watch this movie on the largest screen you can with the best sound system you can and prepare yourself for a mesmerizing journey through the desert.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The American Film Institute awarded Peter O'Toole the distinction of
greatest performance by an actor in the history of cinema for his
performance as Lawrence. Also, director David Lean and crew picked up
more all-time top tens for this film than any other. So you might ask
why it gets less attention? For one, it does bog down a bit 3/4th of
the way through, that, and it has no parts for women, unless you count
three seconds dragging off the mens' leftover food, and four seconds of
ululating from a distant hillside, or playing dead after the rape and
massacre of a village. I suppose I can understand why female movie
buffs are less enthralled by this all-guy war adventure than I am.
I was only ten years of age when my Mom took me to see this in 1962, and I was affected so utterly by Lawrence as David Lean and O'Toole created him, that I could not endure to see the film end after two and a half hours. (The director's cut is longer for you lucky DVD owners). In the final reel, as Lawrence hitches a ride in a motorcar back to the port where he'll return to England, he sees a few Bedouins riding their camels and he takes a long look back once they pass. At that moment, knowing that, like Lawrence, I was about to leave the romance of war in the desert too, I felt a bond so complete that no hero would ever replace Lawrence of Arabia for me. As Lawrence approaches 50, I have been a cinema fan ever since; but of the thousand odd movies I've seen, although some do come close, this is my favorite movie ever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lawrence of Arabia is a British film based on the life of T. E.
Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel
through his British company, Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by
Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the
title role. It is widely considered one of the greatest and most
influential films in the history of cinema.The film depicts Lawrence's
experiences in Arabia during World War I, in particular his attacks on
Aqaba and Damascus and his involvement in the Arab National Council.
Its themes include Lawrence's emotional struggles with the personal
violence inherent in war, his personal identity, and his divided
allegiance between his native Britain and its army and his newfound
comrades within the Arabian desert tribes.
This sweeping, highly literate historical epic covers the Allies' mid-eastern campaign during World War I as seen through the eyes of the enigmatic T. E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole, in the role that made him a star). After a prologue showing us Lawrence's ultimate fate, we flash back to Cairo in 1917. A bored general staffer, Lawrence talks his way into a transfer to Arabia. Once in the desert, he befriends Sheriff Ali Ben El Kharish and draws up plans to aid the Arabs in their rebellion against the Turks. No one is ever able to discern Lawrence's motives in this matter: Prince Feisal dismisses him as yet another "desert-loving Englishman," and his British superiors assume that he's either arrogant or mad. Using a combination of diplomacy and bribery, Lawrence unites the rival Arab factions of Feisal and Auda Abu Tayi.After successfully completing his mission, Lawrence becomes an unwitting pawn of the Allies, as represented by Gen. Allenby (Jack Hawkins) and Dryden, who decide to keep using Lawrence to secure Arab cooperation against the Imperial Powers. While on a spying mission to Deraa, Lawrence is captured and tortured by a sadistic Turkish Bey. In the heat of the next battle, a wild-eyed Lawrence screams "No prisoners!" and fights more ruthlessly than ever.
The epic of all epics, Lawrence of Arabia cements director David Lean's status in the filmmaking pantheon with nearly four hours of grand scope, brilliant performances, and beautiful cinematography. Two years in the making, the movie, lensed in Spain and Jordan, ended up costing a then- staggering $13 million and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have had the privilege of watching some of the greatest films ever made. However, of all of those films, none have been quite able to match the simply magnificent splendor of "Lawrence of Arabia". I strongly believe that this is the greatest film ever made. I'll begin with the dialog. Every conversation and line of dialog in this film is so precisely crafted and so memorable. The film begins by showing how the title character, Thomas Edward Lawrence dies. At his funeral, a reporter is walking around talking to various characters that will later be shown to be of significance in the story. Two of these characters are British Generals Murray and Allenby. Both of them claim to have not known him well. This scene perfectly sets the stage for the story. A story about a man who was mysterious, strange and seldom understood by those around him, particularly his peers in the British Army. The director, Sir David Lean, also does an excellent job in casting each and every one of the characters, especially the main character, T.E. Lawrence himself. Peter O'Toole's portrayal of Lawrence is absolutely spectacular, as he is able to make it such that Lawrence's behavior and actions are uniquely in tune with his circumstances, while still transcending all of it. If I were to go into how amazing the casting of the other characters is as well, this review would go well beyond the IMDb word limit. One of the most striking elements of this film is the cinematography. Not many films are this successful at immersing the audience into the environment of the story. The spectacular views of the desert in this film make the viewer feel as though they are going through this adventure with Lawrence, and make the entire experience feel so much more real. I could go on, but I feel that a review about this films many strengths would take far too long.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lawrence Of Arabia is directed by David Lean,produced by Sam Spiegel
and Robert A.Harris,Cinematography by Freddie Young,Music by Maurice
Jarre and stars Peter O'Toole,Omar Shariff,Anthony Quinn,Alec Guinness
and Claude Rains.
What more can one add to the extensive writings and discussions about this landmark film over the years.Well for one thing this is so much more than just a biopic of an incredible time in one mans life.Lawrence Of Arabia is a detailed study of one man,his psyche,emotions and his tragic rise and fall from fame and grace.At first setting out to understand and perhaps even change the Arab soldiers,Lawrence soon lets rage rule his heart and bloodlust go to head.In so doing he becomes one of the bloodthirsty so called barbarians he thinks he can mould into a form of his choosing as their new leader,but soon discovers he cannot change so many years of tradition no matter how hard he tries.In this he sees all his efforts have been futile.
He also comes to understand he cannot stay as one of them,yet nor can he return to the British who he has alienated more(through his actions in the desert)than he did when he was among them as an oddity.His fate is to live alone,forever torn between two cultures drifting alone in the breeze.
Visually this film continues to inspire and stun audiences today mainly due to the fact everything seen on screen is real.There are no CGI armies but real ones consisting of hundreds of extras.The desert locations had to be cleared of footprints if a shot went wrong to keep the appearance of untouched sand for the retake.Decades on and Leans masterpiece still stands firm as the goal new filmmakers aspire to in their own work,that is obvious testament to his talent,dedication and vision.
Lawrence Of Arabia tells the fascinating true story of the complex British Intelligence Officer,T.E Lawrence(an impressive film debut from Peter O'Toole).The film begins with Lawrences death in a motorcycle accident in Britain,then flashes back to the First World War.In 1916 he's sent to report on the progress of the Arab revolt against the Turkish Empire.He ends up becoming adviser to Prince Feisal(Alec Guinness)and with the help of the man who becomes his friend,confidant and at times conscience,Sheriff Ali(Omar Shariff)organizes a guerrilla army.For two years Lawrence leads the Arabs in harassing the Turks,courtesy of raids and train and camel attacks.
Sadly his new found power goes to his head somewhat,and his ego becomes inflated as he thinks he is invincible and of great importance(not just in the desert but everywhere).The heart of this film lies in finding out exactly who is Lawrence?.A question echoed in a scene across a river where a dispatch rider(voice dubbed by Director David Lean)shouts to Lawrence "who are you"?.
That in a nutshell is the whole point of the story,Lawrence doesn't know where he belongs,does he belong with Ali in the Desert,in the English countryside,is he British,Arab or neither,where does he fit in?.From when we first see him he is not fully accepted by English fellows and peers so he jumps at the chance to go somewhere that might accept him(and for a time he does find his place).
With a stunning lead performance by Peter O'Toole (who beat fellow Brit and all round favourite for the role)Albert Finney to the hot role of the year.Breathtaking photography,fine ensemble cast and Maurice Jarres iconic,sweeping score Lawrence Of Arabia truly is a remarkable film experience not to be missed.
Sam Spiegel who began his career as 'Sam P Eagle' reverted to his birth
name and produced some of the greatest films of the 50's: The African
Queen, The Wild One, Bridge On The River Kwai and Suddenly Last Summer.
Spiegel's greatest triumph would come with this film in a new decade
the 1960's. Columbia Pictures gave Spiegel's great discretion as he
worked from London under his Horizon Film's banner. Stars like Brando,
Hepburn, Bogart, Taylor, Clift, were in Speigel's films. Taking the
story of T E Lawrence, Sam Spiegel once again joined forces with His
great collaborator on The Bridge on River Kawi David Lean and together
they made in my assessment the finest film of all time "Lawrence Of
Casting Peter O Toole after Marlon Brando declined the role, Lean and Spiegel created a worldwide star and to me O'Toole's Lawrence is the finest performance I have ever seen from an male star. (Gloria Swanson's Sunset Blvd gets my vote as best femme performance). O Toole while nominated lost the Oscar to Gregory Peck. (Jack Lemmon's searing Days of Wine And Roses was also nominated)
Maurice Jarre created a memorable score, one of the best if not best ever. David Lean assembled a cast of Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quinn and in a star making performance, Omar Sharif.
One cannot praise this film enough, including the magical photography in the desert, and the performance of a lifetime from Peter O Toole.
I consider this the finest film I have ever seen
Wow!!!I was speechless when i saw this film.Still have memories of the
movie.My father used to see this movie i guess 10 years back when i was
a kid,he told me that its a masterpiece of International Cinema.But now
after watching this i know this is truly a masterpiece.
No short of an epic,Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence has given a performance of a lifetime.Peter will always be remembered as Lawrence.The man who loved the desert.The man who united Arabia.The man whose conflicting loyalties made Arabia a united country.The rest of the performances specially that of Alec Guinness(Prince Feisal),Anthony Quinn(Auda Abu Tayi) & not to forget Omar Sharif(Sheriff Ali) are terrific.Brilliant performances from everyone.
The scenes where Lawrence sits in the desert just feeling the sand,is so captivating.Lawrence faces such horrors of war that we can feel it through his eyes.The love for the desert makes him to change into something that he was meant to be.A legend.Truly for some men nothing is written until they write it.Though on personal fronts he would have suffered a lot in the desert & in Arabia.That has been wonderfully shown in the film.
Still i feel the last scene,where Lawrence is going back to England & just sees Arabs on camels on his way.He feels again that he belongs here.And with the memorable soundtrack the movie closes.Thats so beautiful.
David Lean has directed an epic here.This is the best movie of the century.This can never be emulated.This movie is just too difficult to surpass.I doubt i will ever see a movie better than this.
Last week, I received the awesome privilege of being able to watch
Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen at a local theater. I have seen
this film multiple times. In fact, I own a DVD copy, but I have never
seen it magnified. And yes, it makes a difference. You can actually see
the grains of sand blowing around the Nefud desert. You feel the sun
burning down as Lawrence rides through the scorching Devil's Anvil. And
more than once, you see those blue penetrating eyes staring straight
into your heart and know how a skinny, white British soldier inspired
the Arab people to almost free themselves once and for all from
This won't be so much of a review as a reflection. Truly reviewing this movie would be a daunting task which I won't attempt now.
If you haven't seen Lawrence, it is an experience worth having. True, at 216 minutes, it is longer than your average film. But unlike some films of this length the viewer stays involved. In fact, at the end of this film, I am always wanting more. It seems impossible that a people group could get so close to their goal only to turn back. And I want to see Lawrence and Sheriff Ali continue their strange, endearing fellowship past what this film shows. And unlike some biopics, we don't see some long drawn out story about how painful Lawrence's childhood was or follow him past his prime to see him sighing over lost opportunities. The ending is abrupt with no sense of conclusion. The whole thing seems like a big buildup to failure, but no one ever said Lawrence of Arabia could be put into a nice, neat box.
At the beginning, T.E. Lawrence is stationed in Cairo in the maps room. He is portrayed as messy, reckless, and somewhat masochistic. He enjoys letting a match burn down to his fingers and "not minding that it hurts." He is called to the general's quarters by Mr. Dryden, of the Arab Bureau, for his knowledge of the Bedouin people. They want to send him to look for the Bedouin people and Prince Feisal. His mission is to assess the situation. That's a somewhat nebulous task, but Lawrence is enthralled. He gets to come out of his hidey hole in the maps room, out into the desert, and away from those stodgy British military folks. Lawrence has an obvious obsession with the Arabian culture and the desert. As we watch him riding his camel, he looks around him like a kid with his first slingshot.
Lawrence's initial encounters with the Arabs are mixed. He gets along well with his guide only to see the man get killed the next day by another Arab merely for drinking from a well. Lawrence sees this as somewhat barbaric, but we can see his eyes sparkle when it happens. This is a physical tell. He has been raised to be a civilized British conservative, but his heart longs for the feuding and bloodthirst of the eastern world.
Lawrence finds Prince Feisal and his people in the midst of a Turkish air strike. He is invited into the tent and speak out of turn. Feisal wants to hear what he has to say. Lawrence seems to desperately want to please this man and to "out-Arab" the Arabs. What is his motivation? Does he truly love the Arab culture so much? Does he wish to glorify himself as the one who could make it work? Is he just suicidal? Is he out to prove an agenda? Director David Lean (genius) makes the wise choice to leave this open. He never attempts to "explain Lawrence." This is why people are still obsessed with this movie 40 years later. Lawrence is a mystery.
Lawrence breaks with his orders by deciding to do more than assess. He decides to help the Arabs take Damascus and will stop at nothing to make this goal a reality. Not ridicule, not the impassable desert, and especially not "what is written" will keep this white boy from dreaming the impossible dream. He dares to hope, to dream and creates a believer out of Sharif Ali and the rest of the Bedouin peoples.
The film contains moments of grandeur, such as the battle scenes and the train raids. It also includes quiet moments around the fire, like when Sheriff Ali tells Lawrence he can choose his own name. This movie is a symphony, which has dynamics of highs and lows. This is a lost art in the film world today. Above all, there is the desert, which is more than the setting of the movie, it is a living thing which invites Lawrence into its danger and secrets. The desert is the seductress which pulls Lawrence into his long arduous path from conquering hero to possible madman to a man resigned. The dessert brings out the very best in Lawrence, and the very worst.
The dialogue is precise and memorable. The music is gorgeous. The acting is superb. The only problem with this film is that I will never be able to understand who Lawrence truly was. That is the maddening genius of this film. I am going to make a bold statement here. I believe this is as close to being a perfect movie as one can get.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On the IMDb discussion boards a few years ago, someone asked what made
"Lawrence of Arabia" (LofA) such an important movie. The poster had
watched the film but was left scratching his head as to why this was
such a significant and revered movie. If you have seen the movie and
are asking yourself the same questions, hopefully this will help.
You might have wondered why this movie lasts almost four hours with an intermission. When LofA was made, going to the cinema to watch a movie was a bigger deal than it is now. It was commonplace for movies to last this long, and lengthy epics with a cast-of-a-thousand were the flavor. This is the only significant quality this movie shares with other contemporary movies of the time.
Obviously, this movie takes place in the Middle East. As far as western audiences were concerned, LofA might as well have taken place on the moon for all that was understood of Arabian culture and history in 1962. LofA transports us to an alien land with strange characters and values. To help tell this story, the movie is anchored by established actors like Sir Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, and Claude Rains. While Hawkins and Rains perform familiar characters, Guinness and Quinn paint credible portraits as Arabic royalty and tribal leader. That their characterizations still ring true today is a testament to their portrayals. Only in the last 10 years or so has western cinema begun to maturely portray Middle Eastern culture. Omar Sharif, one of the few actual Middle Easterners with a prominent role, demonstrates the complex beauty and brutality of this culture.
Of course the real star was newcomer Peter O'Toole. His was a risky casting and proved to be one of the best of all time. The real genius of LofA is its simplicity. Here is the man Lawrence, here is what happened, here's how he felt about it all. This is made possible by O'Toole. At the time, campy presentational acting was still the prominent style of movie acting. O'Toole was part of the new blood of method acting, made en vogue famously by Brando and "On the Waterfront", that was showing the audience, not telling, the emotional fabric of a character. Watch O'Toole's eyes on his close-ups. He communicates more depth and presence than any dialog could provide. He draws the audience in, includes them in his triumphs and despairs, all the while impressing the hope and ambition of Lawrence.
Steering the ship is David Lean. He makes nearly every minute of the movie matter. An important part of the story is the environment of LofA, the desert. It's such an integral part that Lean treats the desert as a character. Lean takes the audience to another world to show how the desert is a huge factor to the method of madness Lawrence finds there; why a man is killed simply for drinking from a water well, why Lawrence is the Giver of Life, why crossing the desert for gold is honorable, why it is important that Arabia be ruled by Arabians, not the British or Turks. There's a scene where Lawrence is crossing the Devil's Anvil. In that sequence Lean includes a shot of a dust devil (the tornado-looking thing) spinning fiercely on the baked ground. If this movie were made today, a CGI-artist would make this. Of course CGI didn't exist in '62, but nonetheless Lean patiently set up in the desert to capture this phenomenon and include it. It's a small color, but important the vast and vibrant world he communicates.
If this movie were made today, it would be filled with snappy dialog and probably focus on big action sequences. Lean makes every minute of the movie matter because everything that happens serves the characters. The movie lasts nearly four hours, not because that was the style of movies in that era, but because it takes that long to diligently explore the characters of Lawrence, Feisal, Sheriff Ali, and abu Tayi. Lean's direction and crafting was revolutionary. The movie stills holds currency in our modern culture because the movie's direction, acting, and characterizations ARE timeless and of no particular era.
There are a thousand variables that make a great movie, but if you're looking for the important qualities to latch on to, it's how this movie is timeless. This movie was a radical departure from the hammy "epics" of the time and set a nearly unreachable standard for every movie that follows. It was great in 1962, great today, and will be great in 50 years.
The true story of T.E.Lawrence is hidden somewhere inside his personal memoirs. For the adventure-seeking Englishman from Oxfordshire, the Middle East was a land so remote from his that surely a man could become a hero, if he found the right location or conflict. Lawrence himself was a self taught expert in many of his interests. Having graduated from prestigious places, made him even more sought after by authorities, both academic and military. The film " Lawrence of Arabia " is laced with many actual events taken from Lawrence's own accounts, and it's difficult to separate fact from fiction. That is not really important for the Hollywood version in which Peter O'Toole plays T.E. Lawrence with such uncanny precision, the character overlaps the actual man. To add to the authenticity are the supporting actors such as Alec Guinness as Prince Feisal who is superb in his part. Anthony Quinn is Auda abu Tayi and is so convincing, many actual Arabs on the set accepted him as one. The main actor who gain hundreds of accolades while filming is Omar Sharif who plays Sheriff Ali. Jack Hawkins plays, General Edmund Allenby and Anthony Quayle is Colonel Brighten. The Turkish General is played by none other than Jose Ferrer. Claude Rains is the sly and slippery French minister Mr. Dryden. Arthur Kennedy is the American Newspaperman Jackson Bentley, seeking a story for his readers. When one views the film, it cannot but overwhelm as the vast but beautiful desert scenery and dramatic events convince the audience this film is fantastic in breath and scope. So highly recommended, it has achieved Classic status. ****
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