Lawrence of Arabia - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Lawrence of Arabia Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ March 17, 2014
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.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2007
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.
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2011
With awe-inspiring gigantic sets, great performances from a wide cast, big battles, and a story that more than justifies it's time length; this sweeping war epic hasn't lost a touch of it's magic since it's debut in 1962.
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2008
David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia is exactly what everyone describes it as: one of the great cinematic achievements of all time. Peter O'Toole's astonishing debut as well as top notch performances from Sir Alec Guinness, Anythony Quinn, Omar Sharif, and small supporting parts by Jose Ferrer and Claude Rains all come together to make an impressive ensemble. The beautiful cinematography and captivating storyline combine to make a gorgeously engaging epic that plays just as fresh as it did in 1962.
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2011
A remarkable masterpiece! One of the best movies ever. It inspired both Martin Scorcese and Steven Spielberg to become directors and is my favourite film, that is pretty darn amazing for me! Amazing in all aspects the film boasts incredible direction by David Lean who deserved every Oscar and BAFTA he got. It is an incredibly hard thing to do to make a film as bold and dramatic as this but Lean and Spiegel re-established the boundary for Bio-pics, epics and most importantly the art of Film-making itself. What makes the film so good is the scale of it. Michael Bay when given a big budget can make the worst film in the world, but when David Lean is given half the budget he creates this. Shot on location in 156 days the film won seven academy awards and eleven BAFTA's. Peter O Toole in his breakthrough first screen role played the character of TE Lawrence very well, balancing the hero and courageous side of Lawrence with the slightly insane, wants to be left alone side. The character of Lawrence himself is a very strange person and the portrayal of him by Toole in the film has long been argued, especially by Lawrence's official autobiographer, who made many changes to the screenplay especially Lawrence's dialogue. But in my opinion he did a really good job. The real honour should go to David Lean who directed the piece and the beautiful cinematography.
Truly the best film ever, I recommend you watch it again and again but with breaks.
***** 5 Star
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2011
Lawrence Of Arabia is one of the greatest epics in film history. Clocking in at nearly four hours, the film recounts the British campaign in the Middle East as seen through the eyes of famed British officer, T.E Lawrence. Lawrence Of Arabia is a stunning picture with a terrific sense of atmosphere. Director David Lean's direction is flawless and everything about this film is epic. The acting, the score, the scenery, everything is grand. T.E Lawrence is brilliantly portrayed by Peter O'toole and he is definitely the right person for the role. The film is a visual treat as the color palette for the film is mostly beige, but the desert is beautifully filmed, and I would go as far as to say that desert is a character in the film. Lawrence Of Arabia is a beautifully photographed picture and is superbly acted. Director David Lean has crafted a true masterpiece of a film, and though quite long, watching the film is definitely worth it. The cast assembled do a great job on screen, and aside from Peter O'Toole I thought the best actor in this film was Alec Guinness. Lawrence of Arabia is a sweeping epic that remains a cinematic masterwork. The power and grandeur of the film speaks for itself. For people interested in the subject of T.E Lawrence and his legendary campaign, Lawrence Of Arabia is a great film to watch, and for those who enjoy classic epics, this is a must see.
Super Reviewer
½ June 4, 2007
Well, I finally got through it. That's all I really have to say about this.
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2011
Yes it is a long film; a very long film. Perhaps this is a symptom of the short attention spans of people today. But you know what? I wish it was 3 or 4 times longer. Every time this film finishes I compare it to the badly acted special effects laden rubbish that passes for 'epic' cinema these days and wish that T.E Lawrence had his motorcycle accident at 93 (rather than 47 as he did in 1935) so I could have had more of Peter O' Toole's electrifying performance.

The cinematography is acknowledged as being some of the the best in any film ever. When Mr Lean wanted to capture a sun rise, he stood in the dark (in a REAL desert) and waited for the sun to REALLY rise (No computerized nonsense in this film). As for the reviewer who thought Lawrence looked like a homosexual because he had a 'effeminate' walk, well ... I can only hope that one day he joins the 21st century; hero's aren't all musclebound apes, leaders aren't all fluffy paragons of virtue, and so what if he did turn out to be homosexual?

If you and you dad like watching a man being whipped before being violated there is, I believe, a wealth of material available to cater for your taste at your local pornography shop.

In my opinion its one of the best films ever made and certainly the best film I've seen based on real events.

Forget the length feel the quality.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2007
Do I personally consider this to be in the Top 5, 10, or 15 Greatest Films of All Time? Well, let me watch some more movies, then I'll get back to you. Is it an excellent film in it's own right? Why yes. It is fantastic. It's also quite odd, and a little darker/cynical than I was expecting. It deserves the title 'epic', and not just because it is long. It is long, but the scope of things, and the ambition also contribute to it being epic. To use the old cliche, they don't make them like this anymore. Honestly, they probably couldn't. I mean, it's not financially or technically impossilbe, but it probably wouldn't be advised, or commercially wise to do so.

That upsets me, because judgments like that make it seem as if all modern viewers would be capable of experiencing a film like this. I would love to see an epic like this made in the same style as Old Hollywood epics with overtures, entr'actes, exit music, no CGI, practical effects, real extras, etc. I honestly think if people weren't brainwashed by add-influenced editing and stories, and made to belief that CGI is the way to go, that epics like this could still be made this way. Since that is not likely to happen, I can only hope that people can learn to appreciate these older films. They set the standard for generations to come, even if the way things are done has become more efficient. Even for viewers who aren't film nuts, it's not hard to see the influence that this film has had on films that came after it, especially the camera work, music, and ensemble casting.

Entire books have been written about this film, so I really don't have a whole lot to contribute to say other than that yeah, there's a lot one can read into this, and, even though it is a tad too lengthy (and the second half loses steam), it's still an engaging film, and I was amazed at how little I got bored. It is inaccurate, but I expected that. I don't have as many complaints about the inaccuracies, as the film doesn't depict my area or time period of study, b ut the way I view this, and other history based films, is to look at the big picture, and review the movie for how it holds up overall. Even with inaccuracies, this is still a marvelous film, and I am really amazed and how it was made. I would kill to be able to make a films as technically, cinematically, and artistically impresive as this.

Other raves: Great cast giving terrific performances. O'Toole got robbed for not getting the Oscar for this- the film that launched his career and made him a legend. His talent is just as mesmerizing as his astoundingly blue eyes. Guinness is great, as is Sharif. I also really like Quinn. The location shooting is something that everyone notices and talks about. How could they not though? It's the real star here. The desert looks gorgeous, and this film begs to be seen on a big screen (either in a theater or an impressive screen at home). The music is sweeping, evokes all knds of emotions, does everything that perfect accompaniment music should, and is one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard.

Bottom line, whether this is truly one of the best films ever made or not, it needs to be seen regardless. It's a true cinematic gem.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2010
Let me say, Peter O'Toole has the most GORGEOUS EYES I HAVE EVER SEEN! lol ok know that I have gotten that out of my system. Yes Lawrence of Arabia is a Classic and Yes it is Fantastic, but the problem I have with this movie is the same I have with all of the other epic techni-color movies form the late 50s and 60s (the king and i ect.) Its far toooooooo lloooonnnggg. I believe alot of the stroy was slow and could have been left out. A much beetter and shorter, Epic desert movie would be The English Patient which stars my favortie Ralph Fiennes. I know that Fiennes has stared in a kind of run-off of this movie and I believe that I would enjoy that one better...
Super Reviewer
May 12, 2007
Peter O'Toole stars in his breakthrough role as T. E. Lawrence, a British officer who united the nomadic tribes of Arabia to defeat the occupying Turkish forces during World War I, while preventing the British Empire from taking over in their stead. David Lean's sweeping biopic is epic in every sense of the word. It is character study, war movie and birth of a nation all rolled into one near four hour package. Lean's stunning visuals show human beings as insignificant insects on the face of one of the harshest environments on Earth, the savage beauty of which seduced the young idealistic Lawrence. The story shows him to be a little more complex that the usual heroic revolutionary figure, a typically hard headed Brit who was too stubborn to consider defeat and really an outsider from both his Arab comrades and the British society from which he came. Becoming traumatized by both his military experiences and the fact that he became little more than a political pawn used by both sides he abandoned his cause and returned to England but not without becoming an almost mythic figure. O'Toole is incredible in his defining role creating a believable snapshot of history in the making, with all of the principle players realized in a non-judgemental and unpatronizing way. Its sheer length makes it something of an undertaking, but its well worth the investment. One of the classics.
Super Reviewer
½ July 15, 2007
Excellent performances and it's certainly epic but it just takes forever to get where it's going.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2009
Awesome Classic
Super Reviewer
April 27, 2007
Way too long for my liking, and highly overrated. It does have some qualities, however, that made it worth the 3 hours of my life that I invested. One being the extraordinary beautiful cinematography, which still looks stunning by today's standards. Another positive element is the acting by Peter O'Toole. His character is truly one of a kind, and made the movie pretty interesting on the whole, despite the fact that I usually don't like stories that take place in the desert. Even so, I still felt it lacked a lot of drive, and the dialogue was occationally quite boring and bland. That isn't to say it was bad in any sense. I just don't have the patience to sit through scene after scene with nothing but camels and sand dunes. But hey, at least it was easy on the eyes.
Super Reviewer
½ April 19, 2008
spectacular. visually stunning adventure.
Super Reviewer
½ September 27, 2008
It was a bit confusing becuase I watched it pretty tired and it is such a long movie. One of the most visually pleasing and best shot films I have seen. I might upgrade my rating after I let this one marinate a little bit.
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2008
There will never again be a film like this. Yes, it has real extras and real sets; a similar feet today would result in a massive usage of CGI. But the film accomplishes what few biographies have come closer to doing. It presents a man, TE Lawrence, on a scale as epic and grand as the movie itself. The imagination required of David Lean to accomplish a completely engrossing four hour movie without the use of romantic subplots and extended action, is a feet rarer than a blue moon.
Super Reviewer
½ March 24, 2007
I am the same age as Lawrence, and I have officially accomplished NOTHING in comparison to this guy.

An experience like no other, and a story worthy of it's glorious 70mm presentation. You haven't seen this film, until you've seen it on the big screen.
Super Reviewer
February 2, 2008
Lean makes the desert a visual canvas for examination of the foundations of humanity.
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