Rainer's Review of Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Arabia(1962)
In case you haven't heard about this little film - it's one of the most classic epics Hollywood has ever seen. And even after 50 years I found myself forgetting how old it was. Although it's almost four hours, and pretty old school, it's a timeless classic.
Only one or two little details bothered me - most disturbingly, the mental state of Lawrence - who seemed to change his mind for no particular reason numerous times (Maybe I didn't get it, but I give you an example what I mean: when he gets caught by the Turkish patrol and interrogated and tortured by José Ferrer afterwards, he wants to quit his command of the Arab forces - I think because he realized that he always remain a white guy - but then when he gets back to headquarters, the general doesn't do much to get him back on the field - in fact he doesn't really say anything and Lawrence just changes his mind back without any reason - at least none that I could observe).
Things like these hurt the film a bit. Besides, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn a.o. did a decent job, but was it really necessary to cast Brits as Arab tribesmen? Especially Guinness just doesn't look like a Bedouin no matter how much make-up you put on his face.
But let's look at the whole picture. Is it an essential movie in film history? Yes, it definitely is! Is it one of the most beautifully photographed films ever? As far as I'm concerned, yes! Is it entertaining and well-paced despite it's long runtime? Yes, and it really needs the time to show us what it wants to tell us. The desert scenes need some duration, only this way we can understand how the heat and the endlessness must feel.
I could post some more (rhetoric) questions, but I think you got what I was trying to say. If you take the film as a whole you won't find much criticize about it. It's perfectly balanced, features decent performances and breathtaking cinematography. Not to forget David Lean's signature eye for great settings (Lean is one of the best examples of how a director's roots influence his style).
PS: Have you ever noticed that they used the same desert locations numerous times? It doesn't really matter because they look the same anyways but that's a fun fact I guess...