Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: An inordinately complex man who has been labeled everything from hero, to charlatan, to sadist, Thomas Edward Lawrence blazed his way to glory in the Arabian desert, then sought anonymity as a common soldier under an assumed name. The story opens with the death of Lawrence in a motorcycle accident in Dorset at the age of 46, then flashbacks to recount his adventures: as a young intelligence officer in Cairo in 1916, he is given leave to investigate the progress of the Arab revolt against the Turks in World War I. In the desert, he organizes a guerrilla army and--for two years--leads the Arabs in harassing the Turks with desert raids, train-wrecking and camel attacks. Eventually, he leads his army northward and helps a British General destroy the power of the Ottoman Empire. Runtime: 216 mins Release Date: 29 Jan 1962
I first saw this film on its release, aged 13, and it forms an important part of my transition towards adulthood. I am pleased to see that it consistently rates 20something in the IMDb listings, even from others whom I envy, for I can't see it with fresh eyes who are seeing it for the first time. Pleasing too is that some of those are also teenagers, for whom a forty-three year old film must itself seem part of the past. As for the minority who are bored by intentionally slow pacing and for whom punctuation, paragraphing and grammar are a lost art , I suggest they learn a little about <more>
the history of film-making from which it may become apparent that much of today's fast editing techniques were invented in the 1920s: try Eisenstein's October, for example .From the universally admired cinematography of Freddie Young, the long shot of Omar Sharif's floating mirage entry, the pre-CGI battles and pan-up scene changes, to O'Toole's florid but career-defining performance and the then novel time-shift narrative, this film set standards not matched even by Lean himself, and, as many reviewers have commented, financially and practically unlikely to be attempted today. I too have rarely seen such clarity of image outside of Imax, and in my view the script by Robert Bolt and I now have learnt, an uncredited Michael Wilson is the finest in cinema. Maurice Jarre's music and some of the acting style now seem a little excessive, but repeated viewing around 35 times in my case does not diminish the impact and quality, and the restoration and now DVD release still, after all these years, approaches the effect of that first 1962 viewing.It is rare that repeated watching of a film as opposed to a live performance does this, and the reasons go beyond the photography, performances and editing. In my opinion, it is because the characterisation and storytelling encourage an appreciation of the ambiguity and inconsistency behind our motives and behaviour, and, in a wartime scenario, in the contrast between political expedience and personal morality. For a 13-year old, this opened a window into the adult world, and it explains why the story has resonance far beyond its setting. The film doesn't require an understanding of middle-east politics though it does have some very current relevance , but it does require an ability to look, listen and understand. The fact that so many people rate it so highly says everything about its wider impact. When The Matrix and even Lord of the Rings have slipped out of the ratings and the adolescents who inhabit these pages have grown up , I believe this film will still be in the 20s or 30s, perhaps enabling young people to once again see the world through adult eyes.Like Ali, I fear Lawrence. I fear the power of art to change us, to challenge our preconceptions. Every time I see this film I learn a little more, discover something new. When I was 13 I didn't understand much, but this film helped me to see that I wanted more, knew more, than my peers. I can't rate it more highly than that.
I first saw this movie on a scratchy VHS almost twenty years ago I was 10 . Liked it sort of-enjoyed the battle scenes and the train blowing up , but didn't understand why my dad was so crazy about it.The next time was on laserdisc remember those? almost 10 years ago and I was hooked. I finally got it - the conflict, the performances, the music, the dialogue - all mesmerising.But it was only in 2002, when I saw the 40th-anniversary reissue on 70mm that I was completely blown away seeing the scale, the enormity of Lean's accomplishment. There were scenes that gave me goosepimples <more>
the opening credits, the cut from the matchstick to the desert sunrise, "nothing is written" - others too numerous to mention .The point of this rather rambling review is this - a movie that can evoke such passion in its admirers stands by itself, beyond reviews or criticism. If you haven't seen it yet I envy you, because you get to experience it for the first time.
The best movie of all motion picture history (by nisitpav)
I first watched "Lawrence of Arabia" when I was about 11 years old. Being a big fan of Steven Spielberg at that time, I was sort of awed by the fact that this was his personal favorite check the "conversation with Steven Spielberg" featurette in the special features disk and you'll really see Spielberg's affection for that film Over the years, Lawrence remained among my DVD collection, and I can't say I actually watched it since that first time, when, by the way, I didn't really like it. But "time does things to movies", and when I watched it <more>
again last year, I found my eyes to be weeping at the end. It instantly became one of my favorite movies.Since then I learned a lot about the history of cinema, and I also learned a great deal about the movies of Sir David Lean. I found my self watching films like "Brief Encounter", "The Bridge on the River Kwai", "Doctor Zhivago", "Ryan's Daughter", and the underrated, "A passage to India". Lean became one of my favorite directors, and, just a few months ago, I decided to watch Lawrence with some friends. Although I had seen it a couple of times before, this time it was a different experience altogether: from the starting credits, to the blowing of the match, the crossing of the Nefud dessert, finding Gassim and bringing him back to the camp, the invasion of Aqaba, his torture and rape ? , Lawrence's laugh after the slap by the "outrageaous" guy, his being left alone, to the final gaze to the motorcycle. I sensed something when I watched that film, which leaves my with the undoubted feeling that "Lawrence of Arabia" is the greatest film ever made. For me, this is it. Ever since '62, it's been a downfall. No other film has managed to reach Lawrence in its poetic greatness. Few do come very close Vertigo for instance .If we are to classify the two complete different cinematic styles, it would be those of Hitchcock and Ford. Hitch was a very "confined" director. He captured his movies from the point of view of one character. His movies took place, most of the time, in closed spaces. In a sense, Hitchcock's films were a journey in people's emotions and a study in people's characters. On the other hand, Ford was an open director. He wasn't confined to one character, or one location, his films where actual journeys. His basis was mostly on theme, and his main ability was to amaze with his imagery. Thus, these are the two different shooting styles....Well, Lean combines both.Which is basically why his best film, Lawrence, is the best film of all times. But not only in terms of style. Also, in terms of content. The intelligent script written by Robert Bolt, the powerhouse performances by O'Toole and Shariff a shame they didn't get the statuette , but also, the ultimately heroic yet tragic figure of T.E. Lawrence, contribute in making this the most visually and emotionally sweeping film of the last 111 years.Such a shame that Lean retired for 14 years after "Ryan's Daughter", there's no way to know where he would have gotten.
a memento from the days when they made real movies (by rupie)
It is, in a way, depressing to watch this movie today. One winds up contrasting it with the sort of technologically slick and aesthetically shallow spectacles, like "Titanic", that garner the sort of adulation that a truly great movie like "Lawrence" received in its day, and one realizes how far we have fallen.Ignore David Lean's painterly technique, the way he fills the screen like a canvas. Ignore Freddie Young's stunning cinematography in fulfillment of Lean's vision. Ignore the fabulous score by Maurice Jarre. Ignore the stupendous cast. Ignore the topnotch <more>
script.What we have, beyond all this, is an absolutely gripping and psychologically perplexing character study of a uniquely enigmatic individual that keeps us on the edge of our seats for the full length of the movie. "Lawrence", at over 200 minutes, goes by faster than many a movie of half its length, due to Lean's brilliant pacing and direction, and superb acting all around. To make a comparison in the world of music, this movie, like Mahler's 8th symphony, is a universe contained within itself.Of course, it is an exercise in self-denial and philistinism to watch this movie in anything other than the wide-screen - or "letterbox" - format, due to Lean's complete use of every inch of the wide screen. To watch it otherwise is to miss half of Lean's intention.To use a hackneyed phrase, they simply don't make 'em like this anymore.
Should be Watched by Every American/Brit (by sirspeedy03)
This film is a classic and an important tool for understanding current upheaval in the Middle East. Aside from the unbelievable cast, haunting score, and superb acting particularly O'Toole's Lawrence... even better in the director's cut which shows additional facets of O'Toole's character development , the film demonstrates the most effective tactics employed in asymmetrical warfare... hit and run strikes on soft targets like Aqaba and Turkish railroad/supply lines. These are the tactics currently being utilized in Iraq, and we could learn valuable lessons, namely that <more>
the Sykes-Picot agreement and its arbitrary national boundaries, combined with the dishonesty of the British has been a great factor in the ever-present unrest that has plagued the region since the days of Lawrence. Perhaps we would also be wise to note that a superpower has NEVER defeated a well-established insurgency. Even ignoring its intellectual provocation, this is an epic that effectively balances the sweeping vastness of the Arabian peninsula's awe inspiring deserts with the certainly exaggerated grandeur of the fascinating character that was T.E. Lawrence.
First the plus points :-1- David Lean's superb direction is a masterpiece for other directors to learn and copy. 2- The screenplay/cinematography is excellently penetrating and the desert in shown in its full splendor, vastness and magnificence. 3- Great actors like O'Tool and Omar Sharif make a memorable debut in this enigmatic rising of the Arabs.The negative Points :-1. Peter O Tool's frail and feeble physique does not hold true to the legend of Col. T.E. Lawrence. A warring protagonist should had been a physically strong actor. 2. The legend of T.E. LAWRENCE IS OVER BLOWN, <more>
because the Ottomon Empire was on its own decline, since the mid-19th century. The death blow to its bygone glory had already struck during the WW-I. Mr. Lawrence merely aided a natural and native Arab uprising against the self defeated Turks. The British have made the movie to create a national hero out of nowhere. 3. The movie is too long making it boring at times. 4. The End is nor evocative neither captivating.
A good film, for those who like the type (by hans-mahler)
If you are looking for desert vistas, sharp action, excellent acting, directing and camera- work, this is the film for you. But take everything you see with a pinch of salt: the filmmakers based the script entirely on Laurence's memoirs, and are thus guilty of perpetuating a number of myths, among them:1 the Arab revolt. Myth: the Araba as a people, rose up in revolt against their Turkish overlords. Truth: only those tribes Prince Feisal, and later, Hussein, had direct influence over rose in revolt, the myth of the Arab revolt was largely conceived and perpetuated by Laurence.2 leader of <more>
the Arab army. Myth: Laurence was the only Britisher leading Arabs. Truth: Laurence was only one of a number of British and Australian officers assigned to lead Arab forces, although he was arguably the most successful.3 Allenby. Myth: General Allenby was a demanding, unscrupulous man who used Laurence and the Arabs without a second thought. Truth: Allenby had a great deal of respect for Laurence and the Arabs, and vice-versa.4 British inaction. Myth: while the Arabs were busily fighting the Turks, the British were lazing around in Cairo, accomplishing nothing. Truth: at the time of the Film's opening, the British army had already fought the first and second battles of Gaza, and the vast majority of British and Imperial troops were up at the front, closely facing the Turks5 Damascus: The greatest myth of all, and quite libelous. Myth: Laurence and the Arab army made it to Damascus a day and a half before the British got there. Truth: The Australian Light Horse, having crossed 400 miles in 6 weeks, made it into Damascus a day ad a half before Laurence and the Arabs got there.Conclusion: This is not an historically accurate film, so don't watch this for history class, but if it's a good war movie you want, you should try this one out.I give it 8 stars 9 if they hadn't spent a quarter of the film on desert vistas
Memorable Visuals, Sound & Acting, Yet It Peters Out (by ccthemovieman-1)
I'm doing this review despite not having seen the movie in a number of years but what I remember best is some fantastic desert cinematography from the point when "Lawrence" Peter O'Toole arrives in the desert until about the last third of this 3-and-half-hour film. There are just numerous spectacular desert scenes and, of course, this was a must to be seen in widescreen. Fortunately, that has been available for many years, even on VHS. Between the direction of David Lean and the photography of Freddie Young, this is a fabulous visual treat, one to be <more>
treasured.Unfortunately, the story as well as the great visuals, seem to dissipate in the last hour-plus of the movie. It just kind of peters out, like Lawrence's desert campaign.The acting is superb with the possible exception of Anthony Quinn, who overacts. Two of the all-time greats - Alec Guiness and Omar Sharif - also added life to this monumental epic story. This was O'Toole's first role, too, and probably his most famous and some think his best. After this film and for a short period afterwords, O'Toole was looked upon as the premier actor in the business.For a film this long and with such little action, it's amazing it entertains as well as it does. For those who need some pretty women to aid in the story, forget it: in fact, there are NO women that I can remember. It gets by with the cinematography, O'Toole intense acting portraying a real-life vain, courageous, stubborn and obsessed Englishman trying to unite the Arabs to fight the Turks.Another very memorable and impressive aspect of this movie was the soundtrack. Is it my imagination or were soundtracks like this one more important and remembered better than movies in the last quarter of a decade? The main theme song is played throughout the film and I still remember it 44 years later.
I know it's a classic and it's easy to see why but here's why it isn't perfect (by Robert_duder)
I finally decided to watch the classic Lawrence of Arabia in my attempt to catch up on film classics I have never seen. Now I don't for one minute intend on talking down about this film. It is easy to see why Lawrence of Arabia stands the test of time as a classic. The absolutely stunning breathtaking cinematography, the incredible 'would be' special effects that probably had to be done with man power and the thousands and thousands of extras used in stunning battle scenes and traveling across the desert. You can't get more spectacular than the scenery in this film. Hands down <more>
a huge 10/10 for what they did with the cast and scenery. The story is simple enough and based on a true story of World War II British soldier who finds himself conflicted on who he is truly fighting for when he becomes entangled with the Bedouin armies of Arabia. I also realize that this is an epic and that being said and being filmed in the sixties, historical epics were known to be lavish productions. I watched this film on a 2 disk DVD and at the end of the first DVD I was so pleased, I almost wanted to watch it again and again and slap a perfect score on it. I would have been just as happy to have it end right there. But as it turned out there was another disk with an hour and a half on it adding the total running time to an outstanding 3 1/2 hours and I have nothing against that unless it's not necessary. I found the last part of this film very unnecessary, it dragged, it bogged down the story and I found it quite confusing. Yes I understand that it brought about T.E. Lawrence's conflicted opinions about the war but it just almost felt like an anti-climax and sadly brought the film down for me.Veteran actor in his screen debut Peter O'Toole plays Lawrence. I think O'Toole perfectly captures everything Lawrence was meant to stand for. O'Toole as Lawrence is conceited, young, naive, bull headed, and has great delusions of grandeur which he uses to win over the Arabians. On top of these less than desirable traits Lawrence has incredible charisma and leadership qualities and O'Toole is the same way. At first he seems almost smug and monotone but the more you watch him the more he electrifies the screen and you become enamored with him. I don't know if that's talent of a gift but either way he makes the film what it is. The incredible Sir Alec Guinness plays Prince Feisal, the leader of one faction of the Arabian army who leaves his men to the trust of Lawrence after becoming enamored with him. It's not a big role but when Guinness is on screen he makes it larger than life. Anthony Quinn is the opposite leader Auda abu Tayi whom Lawrence brings together with Feisal's men to take Damascus away from the Turkish army. Quinn is much like Guinness who doesn't need a lot of screen time to make an impression. They are both worthy of royalty. And Omar Sharif is brilliant and intelligent as Sheriff Ali who becomes Lawrence's wing man and friend.The cast are all brilliant together, the story is of epic proportions and the direction which was Academy Award winning by David Lean is nothing short of brilliance. It might possibly be one of the best directed films I have ever seen. It's simply breath taking. But so much extra is added that I'm just not sure it was necessary. Lawrence becomes so conflicted and ends up leaving them and it just seems to contradict everything he had done. Perhaps I am just being petty about it and I didn't like the ending but nonetheless the last hour and a half was too much for me. Still I don't regret for a minute seeing it and I encourage everyone to see this because even now it's spectacular to watch, imagine how it felt more than 40 years ago. 8.5/10