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Lawrence of Arabia (1962)


Average Rating: 9/10
Reviews Counted: 70
Fresh: 69 | Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: 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.

Average Rating: 8.7/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: 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.


Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 71,491



Movie Info

This sweeping, highly literate historical epic covers the Allies' mideastern 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 Sherif Ali Ben El Kharish (Omar Sharif, making one of the most spectacular entrances in movie … More

PG (N/A)
Drama , Action & Adventure , Classics
Directed By:
Written By:
T.E. Lawrence , Robert Bolt , Michael Wilson
In Theaters:
Apr 3, 2001
Columbia Pictures



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Critic Reviews for Lawrence of Arabia

All Critics (70) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (69) | Rotten (1) | DVD (33)

It is O'Toole who continually dominates the screen, and he dominates it with professional skill, Irish charm and smashing good looks.

Full Review… | February 20, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

It was a big bold project and has turned out a big bold film.

Full Review… | February 19, 2008
Top Critic

[It] remains one of the most intelligent, handsome, and influential of all war epics.

Full Review… | December 13, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The passage of time has only proved how difficult it is to run ideas, history, characterisation and landscape in harness on this sort of scale.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Approach it from whatever angle you like, performances, script, cinematography, score; David Lean's sweeping biography of T.E. Lawrence is unarguably magnificent.

Full Review… | November 29, 2004
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Even the flies in the opening Cairo scene jump out at you.

March 4, 2004
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

This is movie-making on the grandest scale.

Full Review… | February 26, 2014
Radio Times

Despite the film's technical wizardry, the seven Academy Awards and the expansive budget, this time-honored epic is ultimately a testament to something elemental: the ability to make an audience gasp as a story is told.

Full Review… | February 26, 2014
People Magazine

I epics are your thing, they don't come much grander.

Full Review… | February 26, 2014
Total Film

Of all miracles readily apparent on screen, perhaps the greatest is that the film even got made in the first place.

Full Review… | February 26, 2014
Little White Lies

How did David Lean and star Peter O'Toole achieve such perfection? If we could define and distil it, we wouldn't need a special category for those flicks we call 'classics.' Lawrence of Arabia is that, and then some.

Full Review… | March 26, 2013

This is a movie with the excitement of a cavalry charge.

Full Review… | February 24, 2013

To appreciate the film fully, Lawrence must be seen in a cinema, in 70mm on the widescreen and in stereophonic sound, and the present theatrical revival is not to be missed.

Full Review… | February 24, 2013
Observer [UK]

This seven-Oscar wonder remains exhilarating thanks to Freddie Young's majestic desert lensing, Maurice Jarre's gorgeous score and Peter O'Toole's career-defining portrayal of the feted but flawed protagonist.

Full Review… | February 24, 2013
Total Film

It may be legend, and it may be romanticized, but "Lawrence of Arabia" feels authentic. It's as stirring an epic as Hollywood has ever produced-one reason why the American Film Institute has named it the Number 1 epic of all time.

Full Review… | November 11, 2012
Movie Metropolis

O'Toole, all piercing blue eyes and steadfast idealism, buzzes with charisma in the role of a lifetime.

Full Review… | October 26, 2012
Digital Spy

Does it really matter that the sun that rises in the film is a 'real' sun as opposed to a CGI sun?

Full Review… | October 4, 2012
McClatchy-Tribune News Service overlong yet watchable epic...

Full Review… | August 17, 2011
Reel Film Reviews

Mature teens will appreciate this gripping epic.

Full Review… | January 2, 2011
Common Sense Media

The performances, the script, the directing, the cinematography, the musical score is all memorable and hasn't aged much, though at 3.5 hours there are some times (especially in the last hour) that the story begins to drag.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Dark Horizons

One of the cinema's grandest spectacles, Lawrence of Arabia is at turns exhilarating, devastating, and puzzling as it ponders the mystery of a man who was a mystery to himself.

Full Review… | October 29, 2008
Decent Films Guide

Spell-binding cinema.

Full Review… | March 2, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Sweeping, epic, majestic, awesome, sumptuous, you name the grandiose superlative and you'll be right, with amazing performances and gorgeous visuals, although very, very long.

Full Review… | February 19, 2008
Empire Magazine

It's probably heresy to suggest it's overlong, but if Lean's epic outstays its welcome, there are more than enough magical moments to explain why it enjoys its lofty reputation.

Full Review… | February 19, 2008

Audience Reviews for Lawrence of Arabia


A splendorous epic restored to near perfection, running now for almost four hours of magnificent visuals and fantastic dialogue, and it boasts both O'Toole and Sharif in superb performances, mainly the former as a complex, contradictory man in a journey from eccentric soldier to mad exhibitionist.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


It's so...beautiful.

Stay tuned at for the full review.

Alexander Diminiano

Super Reviewer

An indisputable classic concerning an unruly British soldier (Peter O'Toole) tasked by the army to provide assistance to the Arabs in their battle against the Turks. This sweeping, nearly four-hour epic is definitely a long watch, but a rewarding one if you have the patience to see the complete arc of a fascinating, arresting character. O'Toole is the perfect man of the part, as he fully captures the emotions of a character in a "fish out of water" scenario. Aided by a strong supporting cast and a story that expertly captures the politics of the days of the WWI, this is a bonafide masterpiece. Sure, it is definitely overlong, but it is better that way, as it feels in some ways viewing the movie as a journey itself, which in turn feels fitting.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

T.E. Lawrence binds Arab tribes in the West's battle against the Turks.
While I consider this film necessary viewing for anyone who considers him/herself a student of film, I can't say that it is unquestionably great. Yes, Peter O'Toole's performance is marvelous, and David Lean's direction, particularly the cinematography, is quite strong as he frames beautiful shots and often captures the mood of the environment.
However, at close to four hours, the film is extraordinarily long, and some of its length can be attributed to Lean's penchant for showing people walking great distances in order to carry out the scene. Rather than keep the camera focused on a character as he walks into the scene, it's rather simple to show the character approaching, cut away to an reaction shot, and then have the character present to begin the scene. It's a technique that's so often used we barely notice it any longer. It's true that Lean is trying to capture the vastness of the desert, but he does this in so many other parts of the film that I could see how the film's running time could be trimmed considerably.
More important is the film's relationship to race and politics. Edward Said writes eloquently about Lawrence in Culture and Imperialism arguing that Lawrence follows a tradition of colonialists who treat Arabs and Arabia as racially inferior. The film argues that Lawrence's relationship to these people is far more complex than Said claims. The Lawrence of the film recognizes his white privilege and is in conflict with his own identity. which makes a compelling conflict. If the film's relationship to race and colonization stopped there, then I wouldn't have a problem with it. After all, just because the film's thesis differs from Said's opinion of Lawrence doesn't mean it's a film to be rejected. But the casting is more problematic. Alec Guinness, a Brit, and Anthony Quinn, a Mexican, portray Arabs in - for lack of a better term - "brown face." The only Arab in the film with a major speaking role in Omar Sharif (who coincidentally harassed Edward Said during their school days). While I balk at calling Lawrence of Arabia a racist film, I think that it's fair to say that the casting and the inability of the film to fully question the morality of Lawrence's behavior makes it racially problematic.
Overall, I think you should see this film because its scope and its technical proficiency are extraordinary, but it's not without its ambiguity and flaws.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Lawrence of Arabia Quotes

Gen. Murray: He had a minor role on my staff in Cairo.
– Submitted by George P (10 months ago)
Gen. Allenby: You're the most extraordinary man I've ever met. You will be a household word when you will have to go to The War Museum to hear about me.
– Submitted by George P (10 months ago)
T.E. Lawrence: I had to execute someone, and there is something about it I didn't like. Gen. Allenby: I see. T.E. Lawrence: No, some thing else. Gen. Allenby: Well, um. T.E. Lawrence: No, something else--I enjoyed it.
– Submitted by George P (10 months ago)
T.E. Lawrence: I could pass for an Arab if someone would lend me some dirty clothes.
– Submitted by George P (10 months ago)
Gen. Allenby: So you'll be going back then. T.E. Lawrence: Yes.
– Submitted by George P (10 months ago)
Jackson Bentley: You rotten bloody man. Here let me take your rotten bloody picture for the rotten bloody paper.
– Submitted by Lucas B (19 months ago)

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