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Lawrence of Arabia
Drama, Adventure, Biography, History, War
IMDB rating:
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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1080p 1920x874 px 4604 Mb h264 2835 Kbps mp4 Download
DVD-rip 560x320 px 1865 Mb mpeg4 1181 Kbps mp4 Download
A sweeping epic with many layers of complexity
It's hard for the small screen to do justice to such a sweeping cinematographic epic, but there is much more to this film than its visual majesty. The film has one of the most beautiful and recognized scores in the history of cinema, a fascinating subject in the person of T.E. Lawrence himself, one of the most literate screenplays ever written, and a wonderful supporting cast nearing perfection. It is a shame that unless you take the time to buy the DVD and invest the almost four hours it takes to watch it, you are likely to miss out on one of the best films ever made. It is precisely because of its length that it is seldom seen on TV anymore. The backdrop of the film is that the British, in the midst of fighting World War I, are aiding the Arab struggle for independence from the Turks since anything that ties up the Turks accomplishes the British goal of destroying the Ottoman Empire and thus aids in the war effort. T. E. Lawrence is first enlisted to help advise the Arabs in their military goals, but goes on to lead them in a series of stunning military victories that goes way beyond what the British expected of the Arabs, and quite frankly, way beyond what the British wanted. You see, the British had designs on claiming Arabia for themselves after the war ends, years before it was discovered that Arabia was sitting on the world's richest oil supply.

However, this is really an oversimplification of a very complex film. This movie is so multi-faceted that you could tackle reviewing it from several angles. To me one of the most fascinating aspects of the film is the complex relationship and contrast between Sheriff Ali (Omar Sharif), fellow tribesman and counsel to Prince Feisal, and T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole). When the two first meet Ali shoots down Lawrence's Arab companion who is taking him to first meet Feisel because the man is drinking from Ali's well and does not have permission to do so. An outraged Lawrence chastises Ali citing that Arabia will never be great as long as they war amongst themselves and that he is "barborous and cruel". Towards the end of the film, though, there is a reversal of roles as Ali tries to stop a massacre that Lawrence is not only allowing his troops to participate in, but seems to be genuinely enjoying. Ali is a man who has a good bead on who he is and what he believes. Not having this quality is Lawrence's greatest shortcoming. Lawrence either believes he is much less than he is or much more, depending on his latest exploits and who has talked to him last. Ali clearly sees this problem, and by the end of the film Ali is Lawrence's fast friend - in fact his only true friend. You see, Lawrence is being used by both the Arabs and the British. This becomes immensely clear when at the end of the film Prince Feisel, who has always seemed to be genuine towards Lawrence, says during negotiations with the British "Lawrence is a double-edged sword - We are equally glad to be rid of him, are we not?". By the way, the role of Ali has to be Sharif's finest hour as an actor. I always thought Dr. Zhivago was that finest role, and it is still a great performance, but this one is even better.

There are so many other themes going on in this film - the thin line between madness and heroism, the worth of a single human life versus the welfare of an entire army or a nation, the sometimes less than honorable motives behind those fighting for the honorable goal independence, the contrast between western and Arab values - that you could go on forever. That is why I strongly recommend this film. You'll probably come away with something a little different on each viewing.
Not worth the time investment!
After seeing this film on numerous top 10 lists and seeing it as number 1 greatest epic of all time on AFI's list, I decided to give it a try. BIG MISTAKE! It ended up being a depressing, discouraging waste of time. Let me make something clear: I am a history buff, and I love historical epics. But this was ridiculous! I spent the first two hours interested because I thought it was leading to something significant in the last two hours. I was wrong. A depressing conclusion and an awkward ending rendered this to be an exhausting experience. I watch movies to enjoy them and be entertained, not to be relieved when the finish! If there is any redeeming quality to this film, it is Peter O'Toole's phenomenal performance as T.E. Lawrence. He is the single bright spot in this dark film. He so effectively conveys emotions that when he feels broken, crushed or disappointed, you feel broken, crushed or disappointed. Which is a problem for the audience, because Lawrence spends a lot of time being broken, crushed, or disappointed! Still, I was genuinely impressed with O'Toole's ability to convey his character so perfectly. Lawrence's personal demise is what makes the film so depressing. He starts as a merciful, honorable man, and eventually becomes prideful and arrogant. He seems to think he's a god until he's tortured (and possibly raped) by his captors, and in a disturbing scene, goes on a mad killing spree, awakening to find himself covered in blood with a knife in his hand. War can truly destroy a man. If this movie were 90 minutes, it might have been an interesting historical film about an extraordinary man who did extraordinary things at an extraordinary cost. T.E. Lawrence was a hero who sacrificed for a cause he believed was right, but suffered severe consequences, becoming an emotionally and mentally broken man, a shadow of his former "extraordinary" self. As it stands, however, I could not possibly recommend it. PLEASE, DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME!
A cinematography triumph
In terms of direction, acting and cinematography, this has got to be one of the finest films ever made. From its desert sweeping camera shots, this is a very detailed and well thought out biography of Colonel T.E. Lawrence, who in his 3 years in Arabia during the First World War, succeeded in uniting the Arab Tribes against the Turks. The cast is that one of the finest ever assembled for the film. Peter O'Toole is well cast as Lawrence, Omar Sharif is a great Sheriff Ali, and I.S. Johar plays a wonderfully human Gasim. Winner of seven academy awards, this is a film that everyone should see.
If you can find it on the big screen - that's the way to see it!
This film should be viewed in a big cinema on a big screen. That really is the only way to truly "feel" the desert scenes in this film beautifully photographed by Fred A. Young.

This film has influenced so many - Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, etc., etc., but most of all film restorer Robert A. Harris. Mr. Harris along with Jim Painten, brought the film back to life with the magnificent 1989 restoration and director's cut watched over by Sir David Lean and Anne V. Coates, the film's original editor. It is a MUST for all film buffs.

Although the film is over 40 years old, being a period piece it doesn't date. The film re-creates the stiff formality of the British Military of the First World War very nicely bringing to life the pompousness of General Murray, a type not likely to be encountered by today's generation. The odd quirkiness of Lawrence and his many hang-ups are depicted as only O'Toole could have created the character.

The DVD is pretty crisp and clear infrequently revealing the age of the celluloid. It is very exciting but no television can match the awesome landscape created in a large format cinema equipped with real 70 mm projectors. If you have the chance, see it there first (and often, if possible).
Breathtakingly beautiful
Nearly perfect cinematography, along with great acting is a magnificent mix.

An incredible performance by Peter O'Toole leaves great space and opportunity for the storytelling of Lawrence of Arabia's journey across the desert. This movie is truly beautiful. Breathtaking views and heavily realistic fight scenes help with interesting character development.

Maurice Jarre's score fits each and every moment of the story-line and make us feel part of something great.

The running time of this film may be imposing (227 minutes), but every second counts, and is enjoyable: in the end, you don't feel like you wasted your time.
One of the greatest epics ever.
How does one make a film about a figure that just as many felt was a hero, as felt was a villain. That was the question posed to one of the greatest directors in American cinematic history, David Lean.

Strangely, the film starts off with the death of Lawrence in a motorcycle accident. We then see his funeral, complete pageantry befitting a man of Lawrence's accomplishments. And as one man tells a reporter that Lawrence was a great man, he takes no time to degrade Lawrence as the reporter walks away. This prompts an man eavesdropping to defend Lawrence, even though he only knew him through press clippings. And here is where the story begins.

We find Lawrence at his beginnings, a rather average British solider given a rather average task. He spends most of his days sitting behind a desk, until he gets an assignment. One that calls for him to seek out Prince Fiesel, played by Alec Guiness in perhaps his greatest performance. Torn between two countries, Lawrence is caught between what he feels is loyalty to help a struggling people, and the orders from the military in his native land.

Lawrence is a complex man who can be calm, and charismatically charming one moment, has shown in his concern for two orphans he takes under his wing, to a brutal man with the ability to kill without remorse.

The film makes no apologies for Lawrence, painting a brutally honest picture on the man, and leaving the question to the audience. Was Lawrence a good man, or an evil one with dreams of being a God? Yes the film is 3 hours long, but take heart, there is actually a intermission in the film. However, this film is paced well, the story is interesting, Peter O'Toole, Omar Shariff, and Alec Guiness are all amazing performers who each give the best performance. In a small role as a ruthless dictator, Jose Ferrer, and Claude Rains, know for his role as Captain Louis Renault, plays the role of Mr. Dryden. An epic movie made from a Hollywood that has sadly faded away. This is one of the movies they are talking about when they say "they don't make them like they used to."
British officer is used to incite Arabs against the Turks
Ten it is and well deserved. I have seen this several times and always find something to dwell on. Of course, Peter O'Toole was superb, but so was his supporting cast.

Anthony Quinn looks more Arabic than Arabs. And Anthony Quayle always has been a favorite of mine and Claude Rains, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guiness, and Jose Ferrar were splendid. The latter was appropriately dissolute as the Turkish officer who captured Lawrence

The photography was spectacular, the skyline, deserts, and battle scenes. There were just enough of the fighting. The opening air bombing, the attack on the train, the massacre of the Turkish column, and the final raid.

What also was impressive was the relationship between Lawrence and the two Arab boys. All in all, a marvelous production that no one should miss.
Somewhat as boring as watching sand dunes but nice acting by all.
Lawrence is a misfit British Army lieutenant, notable for his insolence and knowledge. Over the objections of General Murray, Mr. Dryden of the Arab Bureau sends him to assess the prospects of Prince Faisal in his revolt against the Turks. On the journey, his Bedouin guide is killed by Sheriff Ali for drinking from his well without permission. Lawrence later meets Colonel Brighton, who orders him to keep quiet, make his assessment, and leave. Lawrence ignores Brighton's orders when he meets Faisal. His outspokenness piques the prince's interest.

Brighton advises Faisal to retreat after a major defeat, but Lawrence proposes a daring surprise attack on Aqaba; its capture would provide a port from which the British could offload much-needed supplies. The town is strongly fortified against a naval assault but only lightly defended on the landward side. He convinces Faisal to provide fifty men, led by a sceptical Sheriff Ali. Teenage orphans Daud and Farraj attach themselves to Lawrence. They cross the Nefud Desert, considered impassable even by the Bedouins, travelling day and night on the last stage to reach water. Gasim succumbs to fatigue and falls off his camel unnoticed during the night. When Lawrence discovers him missing, he turns back and rescues Gasim—and Sheriff Ali is won over. He gives Lawrence Arab robes to wear.

Lawrence persuades Auda abu Tayi, the leader of the powerful local Howeitat tribe, to turn against the Turks. Lawrence's scheme is almost derailed when one of Ali's men kills one of Auda's because of a blood feud. Howeitat retaliation would shatter the fragile alliance, so Lawrence declares that he will execute the murderer himself. He is then stunned to discover that the culprit is Gasim, the very man whom he risked his own life to save in the desert, but he shoots him anyway.
Visually Stunning, Yet Without Enough Structure…
Some time back I read ' The Uncrowned King of Arabia ', Michael Asher's BIO of T. E. Lawrence. In the book, Asher traces Lawrence's history, his sexual conflicts, his motives for doing what he did, as well as the geo-politics of the region, in great detail.

So as visually breathtaking as Lean's film is, it is still nonetheless frustrating to watch, for me at least, because it makes little if any attempt to touch on any of the above topics.

This frustration starts right at the beginning, when Lean devotes several minutes in the main title sequence, to a static shot of Lawrence's parked motorcycle (???). Then, after we are shown Lawrence crash, and his church memorial service, we are abruptly transported back in time.

Now those of us with some familiarity with the story will of course know that this is WW1, in which Lawrence is serving as a young British Intelligence Officer, & where he started out as essentially a map clerk, somewhere in Arabia.

Yet the uninitiated are basically just left to guess.

And soon, and again abruptly, Lawrence is assigned to make contact with the nomadic Arab tribes, in order to facilitate revolt against the enemy German-allied Turks.

Did Lean not believe that any back story was necessary to explain how Lawrence arrives at this point in his life? Such as:

-How he came to serve in the Military?

-How he came to speak Arabic?

-How he came to be selected for such an esoteric assignment?

Moreover, as I watched the film, it was striking to me that there was not a single subtitle or voice-over to provide the date/location/details of any of the events.

Contrast this with other historical films such as ' The Longest Day ', or ' Raging Bull ', or even ' Chaplin ', which provides such info, and also makes its significance clear.

The absence of this info creates the effect of a circular panoramic mural: Beautiful to look at, but challenging to follow, without a clear beginning, or clear direction, or clear ending.

So IF this ' Panoramic ' effect was in fact Lean's intention, then he succeeded brilliantly, but I would have preferred more clarity.

An epic journey through the desert
This movie is based on the life of T.E. Lawrence.It shows us his Arabian adventure on a camel in the desert.It goes through his battles.Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is David Lean's long classic.It won seven Oscars, including Best Director and Best Original Score (Maurice Jarre).Peter O'Toole is amazing as Lawrence.He would have earned an Oscar from his performance, but he only got a nomination.It's a real shame that to this day the man has not won one single Oscar, only an Academy Honorary Award in 2003.And he has been nominated eight times! The rest of the cast is superb as well.Alec Guinness plays Prince Feisal.Anthony Quinn portrays Auda Abu Tayi.Omar Sharif portrays Sheriff Ali.José Ferrer is Turkish Bey.Claude Reins gives the portrayal of Mr. Dryden.Arthur Kennedy plays Jackson Bentley.I.S. Johar plays Gasim.Farraj and Daud are played by Michel Ray and John Dimech.There are many memorable scenes in the movie, one being where Lawrence executes Gasim.And Daud getting killed to a quicksand.Or Lawrence's torture scene.Lawrence of Arabia is a classic not to be missed.
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