Lawrence of Arabia Reviews
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.
Truly the best film ever, I recommend you watch it again and again but with breaks.
***** 5 Star
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.
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.
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.