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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.
All Critics (81)
| Top Critics (18)
| Fresh (79)
| Rotten (2)
| DVD (14)
Lean and photographer Fred A. Young have combined their artistic talents in an evocation of the Arabian desert that makes it both terrifying and deeply moving in its lonely grandeur.
This is a movie with the excitement of a cavalry charge.
You'll need to dedicate half a day to it - but this deserves to be seen again on the big screen.
It is O'Toole who continually dominates the screen, and he dominates it with professional skill, Irish charm and smashing good looks.
It was a big bold project and has turned out a big bold film.
[It] remains one of the most intelligent, handsome, and influential of all war epics.
The definitive David Lean movie.
Robert Bolt's intelligent screenplay captures a portrait of a fiendishly complex, hopelessly idealistic individual and explores the politics at play.
It combines an astute character study with some of the most jaw-dropping images captured on film.
The second half isn't quite as compelling as the first, but to paraphrase a comment I once heard regarding another film: The first half is pure perfection, and then it devolves into one of the best movies ever made.
It has an epic hero whom it doesn't hero-worship...[O'Toole] brings flawlessly to life the film's vision of a flawed warrior who is corrupted by pride, soured by empty victories and betrayed finally by the jubilant jump of his heart every time he kills.
[VIDEO ESSAY] Celebrated British director David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" is a textbook example of "epic" cinema.
A masterwork. The scene walking in the desert left me breathless. Highly recommended.
A splendorous epic restored to near perfection, running now for almost four hours of magnificent visuals and fantastic dialogue, and it offers us both O'Toole and Sharif in superb performances - especially the former as a complex, contradictory man in a journey from eccentric soldier to mad exhibitionist.
During production,no one knew that this would be a bold or mad act of genius it would be to make Lawrence of Arabia,or even think that it could be made. In the words years later of one of it's stars,Omar Sharif: "If you are the man with the money and somebody comes to you and says he wants to make a film that's four hours long,with no stars,and no women,and no love story,and not much action either,and he wants to spend a huge amount of money to go film it in the desert-what would you say?" The impulse to make this movie was based,above all,on imagination. The story of Lawrence is not founded on violent battle scenes or cheap melodrama but on David Lean's ability to imagine what it would look like to see a spec appear on the horizon of the desert and slowly grow into a human being. There are severa moments in the film when the hero,the British eccentric soldier and author T.E. Lawrence has survived a suicidal trek across the desert and is within reach of shelter and water-and he turns around and goes back,to find a friend who has fallen behind. This sequence builds up to the shot in which the shimmering heat of the desert reluctantly yields the speck that becomes a man-a shot that is held for a long time. That is just the first of several scenes that stand out which includes the spectacular battle sequences and in the moment where Peter O'Toole's character does a victory dance on top of a Turkish train. For a movie that runs 216 minutes,plus intermission is one of cinema's great masterpieces and for it's 50th Anniversary it still stands throughout the test of time(originally the running time stands at 227 minutes which was the roadshow version complete with full entrance overture and intermission and exit music). When it came out in 1962,it became the highest grossing film in the history of Columbia Pictures,not to mentioning becoming the highest grossing picture that year. Nominated for an impressive 12 Oscars,it was victorious in winning 7 including the Best Picture of 1962. Lawrence of Arabia might have been lost forever if it hadn't been for the film's restorers Robert A. Harris and Jim Painten They discovered the original negative in Columbia's vaults,inside crushed,and rusting film cans,and also was missing about thirty-five minutes of footage that had been trimmed by distributors final Lean's final cut(when in the 1971 re-release was completely butchered). They painstakenly put it together again,sometimes by one crumbling frame at a time. But to see this in a movie theater is to basically appreciate the subtlety of Freddie Young's Oscar winning cinematography. Lawrence of Arabia was one of the last films to be actually photographed in 70mm(Super Panavision 70),and to see this in it's restored Technicolor format after it's glorious re-release in 1989 and to experienced this in full 6-channel Dobly Stereo Sound is something every filmgoer can appreciate. Lawrence of Arabia made Peter O'Toole an international icon and a major bonafide star along with Omar Sharif(who would go on to star in another David Lean epic "Doctor Zhivago" three years later). The cast itself is astounding ranging from Alec Guinness,Anthony Quinn,Claude Rains,Arthur Kennedy,Jack Hawkins,Anthony Quayle and Jose Ferrer. Please avoid the cable TV versions and it is worth seeing in a huge movie theater with 70mm projection.
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.
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