Due to his knowledge of the native Bedouin tribes, British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence is sent to Arabia to find Prince Faisal and serve as a liaison between the Arabs and the British in their fight against the Turks. With the aid of native Sherif Ali, Lawrence rebels against the orders of his superior officer and strikes out on a daring camel journey across the harsh desert to attack a well-guarded Turkish port.Written by
For T.E. Lawrence's death scene, Peter O'Toole sat on a bike that was strapped to a trailer and pulled along behind the camera car. During filming, the bar connecting the trailer to the camera truck snapped and the only thing preventing O'Toole hurtling out of control into the road was a flimsy piece of rope. The trailer abruptly stopped, and the crew breathed a heavy sigh of relief to see O'Toole still in one piece. "I think it was only Lawrence up there teasing", he said. See more »
When Gasim is walking through the sun's anvil after falling off his camel, he begins to shed various items. During a reverse tracking shot, the dolly tracks are clearly visible in the sand. See more »
When Robert Harris took on the task of restoring Lawrence of Arabia(1962) in 1987, his aim was to restore the film to its original 222 minutes length that premiered before The Queen in London on 10 December 1962. Initially he gradually found all the missing pieces including the famous "goggle" shot and the newly created(in 1962) Columbia logo shot. Harris' idea was to return this to the missing film, despite the fact that David Lean ordered that it be removed from the original film in January 1963 because he preferred the "sparkling" Columbia logo. All the 202 minutes version of the film,(which commenced at The Metropole Theatre in February 1963). had the "sparkling" Columbia logo. David Lean eventually got involved in the restoration process with Robert Harris and the two men worked together to get Lawrence back to its 222 minutes original cut. Then Lean decided that he would make some trims. In the scene in the second half where General Allenby entices Lawrence back to Arabia part of that scene is cut by a few seconds. Where Allenby says to Lawrence: "You're the most extraordinary man I've ever met" Lawrence replies: I'm extraordinary, I'm extraordinary, what of it." Lean decided to cut the second "I'm extraordinary" out. He did this also with many other scenes and brought the original running time of 222 minutes down to 216 minutes, not including the overture, entr'acte music and play out music. See more »
I first saw this film on its release, aged 13, and it forms an important part of my transition towards adulthood. I am pleased to see that it consistently rates 20something in the IMDb listings, even from others (whom I envy, for I can't see it with fresh eyes) who are seeing it for the first time. Pleasing too is that some of those are also teenagers, for whom a forty-three year old film must itself seem part of the past. As for the minority who are bored by intentionally slow pacing (and for whom punctuation, paragraphing and grammar are a lost art), I suggest they learn a little about the history of film-making (from which it may become apparent that much of today's fast editing techniques were invented in the 1920s: try Eisenstein's October, for example).
From the universally admired cinematography of Freddie Young, the long shot of Omar Sharif's floating mirage entry, the pre-CGI battles and pan-up scene changes, to O'Toole's florid but career-defining performance and the (then) novel time-shift narrative, this film set standards not matched even by Lean himself, and, as many reviewers have commented, financially and practically unlikely to be attempted today. I too have rarely seen such clarity of image outside of Imax, and in my view the script by Robert Bolt (and I now have learnt, an uncredited Michael Wilson) is the finest in cinema. Maurice Jarre's music and some of the acting style now seem a little excessive, but repeated viewing (around 35 times in my case) does not diminish the impact and quality, and the restoration and now DVD release still, after all these years, approaches the effect of that first 1962 viewing.
It is rare that repeated watching of a film (as opposed to a live performance) does this, and the reasons go beyond the photography, performances and editing. In my opinion, it is because the characterisation and storytelling encourage an appreciation of the ambiguity and inconsistency behind our motives and behaviour, and, in a wartime scenario, in the contrast between political expedience and personal morality. For a 13-year old, this opened a window into the adult world, and it explains why the story has resonance far beyond its setting. The film doesn't require an understanding of middle-east politics (though it does have some very current relevance), but it does require an ability to look, listen and understand. The fact that so many people rate it so highly says everything about its wider impact. When The Matrix and even Lord of the Rings have slipped out of the ratings (and the adolescents who inhabit these pages have grown up), I believe this film will still be in the 20s or 30s, perhaps enabling young people to once again see the world through adult eyes.
Like Ali, I fear Lawrence. I fear the power of art to change us, to challenge our preconceptions. Every time I see this film I learn a little more, discover something new. When I was 13 I didn't understand much, but this film helped me to see that I wanted more, knew more, than my peers. I can't rate it more highly than that.
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