Review No. 593
NOTE: This review regards the restored director’s cut. When Lawrence of Arabia was first released in 1962, it ran at 3 hours, 36 minutes, plus the introductory and entr’acte reels. The restoration is 3 hours, 48 minutes, plus the introductory and entr’acte reels.
Director — David Lean
Producer — Sam Spiegel
Screenplay — Robert Bolt & Michael Wilson
Peter O’Toole — Thomas Edward “T. E.” Lawrence
Alec Guinness — Prince Faisal
Anthony Quinn — Auda abu Tayi
Jack Hawkins — General Allenby
Omar Sharif — Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish
Distributor — Columbia Pictures
Release Date — December 16, 1962
Language — English, Arabic & Turkish
Country — United Kingdom & USA
Running Time — 3 hours, 48 minutes plus intro. and entr’acte music (restored director’s cut—original release: 3 hours, 36 minutes plus intro. and entr’acte music)
MPAA Rating — PG
Flags (allmovie.com) — adult situations; violence
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA WAS WATCHED ON AUGUST 23, 2013.
Director David Lean is a man who treats his work with far more care than imaginable. He doesn’t make movies–he builds shrines. Wonders to behold. Freddie Young’s cinematography makes so much difference in Lawrence of Arabia. Nothing has been more grandiose since it was released over half a century ago, and furthermore, it’s impossible to resurrect the absolute grandeur, at least without bringing it back to theaters. There’s moments that rattle the inner spirit in this movie, and in fact they encompass it in entirety. The music is terrific, with Maurice Jarre applaudable for such riveting contrast between moments that need a thousand pins for the sound of one dropping, and others when one pin echoes across the entire room.
The thrill lasts almost four hours, and not a minute is wasted. Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson have constructed a screenplay so close to perfect, even the few mistakes are well-written. Their title character is an interesting one. Lawrence of Arabia is the sprawling biography of T. E. Lawrence, a British war hero and a liaison with the Arabian Peninsula during World War I. Both countries adore and honor him for his exploits…and, as it turns out, Lawrence adores himself. Peter O’Toole was an unknown at the time, but he made this his own stunning breakthrough role. His acting is so impassioned in itself, but it doesn’t show immediately. We love the man for the entire first act of this phenomenal epic. During the second half, his character is detestable down to the core. Amazingly enough, our attention remains on insurmountable demand with this man’s route to fame.
Lawrence of Arabia is artful and awe-inspiring. It’s lively and fluent; there isn’t a dead moment in the film, for that matter. I’d like to believe I’m putting the movie on a pedestal. After all, that’s where it belongs.