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Lawrence of Arabia
Year:
1962
Country:
UK
Genre:
Drama, Adventure, Biography, History, War
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
David Lean
Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence
Alec Guinness as Prince Feisal
Anthony Quinn as Auda abu Tayi
Jack Hawkins as General Lord Edmund Allenby
Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali
José Ferrer as Turkish Bey
Anthony Quayle as Colonel Brighton
Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden
Arthur Kennedy as Jackson Bentley
Donald Wolfit as General Sir Archibald Murray
I.S. Johar as Gasim
Gamil Ratib as Majid
Michel Ray as Farraj
John Dimech as Daud
Storyline: 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.
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Reviews
"Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write 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 London at the age of 47, 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 David Lean's stunning film is often referred to as "One of the greatest films ever made" and one of the "greatest British films to cross the pond "and rightly so. So breathtakingly beautiful I even had the stunning colors in my dream last night and that score playing over and over again. As Spielberg said on the DVD" A film which is an inspirational to all" and I totally concur with that as I, like Spielberg won't to try direction in the future. This is the film that inspired Spielberg to make movies and the likes of Scorsese. So this is one film that no-one should miss.

A film of epic proportion and stunning visuals is overwhelming when you watch it. In modern film making it's unlikely that you will see a film so authentic as this. With the introduction of CGI, a film like this would not be made today! I doubt I'll give such a detailed review, as I am still spellbound by the film...still thinking about it's greatness. I will most likely repeat myself, so bear with me. It took 2 years to film this, but you can see the attention to detail in every frame. So well directed and so well put together with stunning visuals, which makes most films you've seen recently look average. If only films were like this now, I would be so much more happy! The screenplay has to be one of the greatest ever written. Every bit of dialogue, you want to hear and when there's no dialogue you are still engaged by the landscape and the spacial awareness of the characters-who so wonderful portray their characters, you can't help but feel part of the film.

Each actor's dialogue so brilliantly play off one another...again it's so wonderful to watch. Some outstanding performances from Peter O'Toole, and Omar Schariff, who rightly gained an Academy Award nomination, and Alec Guiness and Anthony Quale. By the end of the film, I didn't realize it was almost 4 hours long, which again shows how much I enjoyed this film. Perhaps it shows the shot attention span of people today as to some negative reviews I've read on here. That annoys me a lot. All I can say to people is this, it shouldn't matter the length of a film! That score has to be one of the greatest I've seen on film. I am still running over in my mind now, so well orchestrated it's unbelievable. Arabia contains some of the most iconic scenes in cinema history from Omar Scharrif's entrance to Lawrence standing on top of the Turkish train with a background of sunlight....it leaves me Wowed. Again that scene with the entrance of Omar Schariff, wow! One of the greatest entrances I've seen. So well photographed and directed, you'll never see such a scene like that again. Superb! Overall, a masterpiece of a film, which every single person on this site such watch. Such an amazing film...outstanding!
2015-09-08
unconventional imperialists
This movie has been the most praised movie by David Lean and is a favorite of Greek television which plays it every year especially during religious holidays. It is a memorable film and has many affinities with A passage to India in the sense that it presents the picture of an unconventional Briton who defying his prejudiced superiors sides with the native underdogs,underdogs from the point of view of the British of course, for, for their own people they are the elite. But differences exist: while Fielding in a passage to India makes a temporary alliance with a falsely accused Indian middle-class doctor, Lawrence forms meaningfull relationships with simple Arabs as the camel boys and the Arab whom he saves with danger of his life. Of course the main course of action is the relationship of the British agents with the indigenous ruling class. The movie is based on the life of a historical personnage T.E. Lawrence, a British archaeologist,spy, adventurer and larger than life personality.The historical veracity of the movie is questionable since as Steven Spielberg said in an interview, this movie genre is not a documentary but creative use of existent historical material- creative logistics comes to mind. Of course art always has to uplift the mundane realities of life, in that case of colonial power politics. As far as we know Lawrence was not the ardent arabophile the movie presents him to be and he was loyal to his country's imperial interests which did not identify with those of the Arabs, that is of the dynasty of Prince Feisal since no institutions as referendums were utilized to express the will of the average Arab, if such a life-form existed then. While the politics of the film is unreliable and murky, its' artistry is great with unforgettable performances of the major and minor protagonists of this drama that was the Arab Revolt.Lawrence, general Allenby, Prince Feisal, the hauitat chief Abu-tayi, the American journalist are all portrayed unforgettably, although I suspect that if one was to meet those personalities in private after having seen the movie(which of course is impossible) he would be disappointed. But of course the role of art is to create role models and icons not to copy mundane reality.
2006-08-22
Feast for the senses
A true epic in every sense of the word. The cinematic realization of the story of Col. T. E. Lawrence's involvement with the Arab Revolt towards the end of WW1 is a feast for the senses. From Freddie Young's spectacular cinematography through to Maurice Jarre's unforgettable score and star turns from Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, it's a film that demands to be seen on the big screen - I watched the 70mm print, that would surely have stunned audiences in 1962 with its sumptuous technicolor evocation of the harsh but beautiful landscapes of the Arabian deserts.

The first half of the film charts Lawrence's attempts to galvanize disparate Bedouin tribes into insurgency, culminating in the Battle of Aqaba. The second half focuses on the push north to Damascus, and at this point, the tone begins to shift, becoming colder (literally too - the parched desert gives way to snowy peaks) as politics take centre stage. The backdrop of the taking of Damascus is the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which saw Britain and France carve up southwest Asia into spheres of influence and control with the ultimate aim of defeating the Ottoman Empire. This shifting of scope, from the arena of battle to politics, is reflected in O'Toole's nuanced depiction of Lawrence, who begins to seem increasingly conflicted, failing in confidence and conviction as he is sidelined by his superiors, having outlived his usefulness.

It's a film that operates both on a grand scale and a very human scale, with Lawrence's compassion for individual lives and his personal capacity to inspire devotion counterpointed with the colonial remoteness of his puppet masters, General Allenby, Dr. Dryden and Prince Faisal, pulling the strings at a safe distance, far above the bitter reality of insurrection on the ground, and the human cost.
2017-11-09
Spectacular Movie!
This movie is like no other I have ever seen. As a woman, just looking at Peter O'Toole's stunningly beautiful blue eyes was enough to capture my attention. You will not want to miss any lines in this movie as every one of them is so important. The movie is serious and sad but has humor and well written drama included. Omar Sharif plays a very important role as well and his acting is superb.

The relationships that build across the desert will make you feel as if you are there with them. Even though this movie is long, with an intermission even, you will be sad that the movie ends. You will not want it to. It is that entertaining.

I loved the Prince of Faisal also as his voice is perfect of that of a Prince of Royalty. His lines are well written and he says them perfectly.

The only thing I think this movie lacked was a few women. But, being a movie focused on war you will understand why after you see the entire movie.

Lawrence of Arabia is Definitely worth seeing again. This movie is a well known Oscar winner and deserves to be in the best top 50 of classic movies ever made!
2012-04-15
Mesmerisng.
David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) is one of the few films that I would call mesmerising. The acting by all the leads is brilliant. Peter O'Tool is just superb as Lawrence. His performance could quite possibly be the greatest role ever. Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal was one of the more strange acting choices (he plays an Arab), but Guinness is very good and (the then) newcomer Omar Sharif as Sheriff Ali ibn el Kharish is astonishingly good, and there are a lot more great actors in the movie like Anthony Quinn, Claude Rains, and Arthur Kennedy. All the different departments did everything to perfection, (espesially the breathtaking Cinematography by Freddie Young) and the direction and script are flawless. One to watch in a sitting. By the way, please check out my My Movies list at: http://www.imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=40919487 .
2009-04-19
Nothing is written…Lawrence of Arabia
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'Toole—intense, sarcastically humorous, and heartbreakingly real throughout—we 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.
2007-03-23
Irony
Apart the incredible scope and quality of this great movie, is one of the great ironies that I have encountered, the fact that this crazy man Lawrence lives through everything a man could go through, his eventual demise is on a joyride on a motorcycle.
2002-07-20
Memorable Visuals, Sound & Acting, Yet It Peters Out
I'm doing this review despite not having seen the movie in a number of years but what I remember best is some fantastic desert cinematography from the point when "Lawrence" (Peter O'Toole) arrives in the desert until about the last third of this 3-and-half-hour film. There are just numerous spectacular desert scenes and, of course, this was a must to be seen in widescreen. Fortunately, that has been available for many years, even on VHS. Between the direction of David Lean and the photography of Freddie Young, this is a fabulous visual treat, one to be treasured.

Unfortunately, the story as well as the great visuals, seem to dissipate in the last hour-plus of the movie. It just kind of peters out, like Lawrence's desert campaign.

The acting is superb with the possible exception of Anthony Quinn, who overacts. Two of the all-time greats - Alec Guiness and Omar Sharif - also added life to this monumental epic story. This was O'Toole's first role, too, and probably his most famous and some think his best. After this film and for a short period afterwords, O'Toole was looked upon as the premier actor in the business.

For a film this long and with such little action, it's amazing it entertains as well as it does. For those who need some pretty women to aid in the story, forget it: in fact, there are NO women that I can remember. It gets by with the cinematography, O'Toole intense acting portraying a real-life vain, courageous, stubborn and obsessed Englishman trying to unite the Arabs to fight the Turks.

Another very memorable and impressive aspect of this movie was the soundtrack. Is it my imagination or were soundtracks (like this one) more important and remembered better than movies in the last quarter of a decade? The main theme song is played throughout the film and I still remember it 44 years later.
2006-06-17
Haunting
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.
2007-01-16
A good film, for those who like the type
If you are looking for desert vistas, sharp action, excellent acting, directing and camera- work, this is the film for you. But take everything you see with a pinch of salt: the filmmakers based the script entirely on Laurence's memoirs, and are thus guilty of perpetuating a number of myths, among them:

1 the Arab revolt. Myth: the Araba as a people, rose up in revolt against their Turkish overlords. Truth: only those tribes Prince Feisal, and later, Hussein, had direct influence over rose in revolt, the myth of the Arab revolt was largely conceived and perpetuated by Laurence.

2 leader of the Arab army. Myth: Laurence was the only Britisher leading Arabs. Truth: Laurence was only one of a number of British and Australian officers assigned to lead Arab forces, although he was arguably the most successful.

3 Allenby. Myth: General Allenby was a demanding, unscrupulous man who used Laurence and the Arabs without a second thought. Truth: Allenby had a great deal of respect for Laurence and the Arabs, and vice-versa.

4 British inaction. Myth: while the Arabs were busily fighting the Turks, the British were lazing around in Cairo, accomplishing nothing. Truth: at the time of the Film's opening, the British army had already fought the first and second battles of Gaza, and the vast majority of British and Imperial troops were up at the front, closely facing the Turks

5 Damascus: The greatest myth of all, and quite libelous. Myth: Laurence and the Arab army made it to Damascus a day and a half before the British got there. Truth: The Australian Light Horse, having crossed 400 miles in 6 weeks, made it into Damascus a day ad a half before Laurence and the Arabs got there.

Conclusion: This is not an historically accurate film, so don't watch this for history class, but if it's a good war movie you want, you should try this one out.

I give it 8 stars(9 if they hadn't spent a quarter of the film on desert vistas)
2006-07-27
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