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A 1962 epic historical drama film directed by David Lean that dramatizes the life of T.E. Lawrence.

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The epic of all epics.

  • Aug 17, 2011
**** out of ****

I believe that "Lawrence of Arabia"; like "Citizen Kane", "The Godfather", and "Psycho", is a film that you never quite see the first time. Most people will be kind and will hold themselves back from spoiling too much for you, if you intend to watch the film and absorb all of its brilliance, but there are a few things that I knew I was familiar with, regarding the film. Take the lengthy and entirely entertaining battle sequences between the Turks and the Arabs. I knew about them before watching the movie. And yet, knowing of their existence didn't ruin everything. It is films like these that are special; essential cinematic classics that belong in every movie-lover's collection of films. Here, we get a somewhat fast-paced, entirely visual experience that is as unforgettable as it was, and still is, influential.

It was so influential, in fact, that even filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg took influence from its look and style. Of course, there's no such thing as copying or mimicking a film as good as this one; for it is truly one-of-a-kind. But nobody would want to imitate it, because most have respect for it, and they should. What it offers is not (nearly) four hours of slow-paced, talky dialogue; but fast-paced, racy action. This is superb entertainment. It's not necessarily the kind of action/biopic/epic that you would call "fun"; but masterful entertainment, yes.

Often criticized, but still adored, for its just-barely acceptable depiction of real history, "Lawrence of Arabia" chronicles T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole), a British Army lieutenant, who is sent to Arabia to unite the conflicting Arab tribes. He sees the flaws in their struggles, as the real enemies are the Turks. Lawrence is able to befriend Prince Faisal, who believes his words, and agrees to re-unite with the other tribes and rise up to defeat the Turkish forces.

The film is conveniently divided into two parts, because of its lengthy ways (which, by the way, I admire greatly). The first half of the film is basically build-up, with Lawrence striking up new relationships and being promoted to Major. Then in part two, Lawrence is given arms to support to Arabs. He launches a war against the Turks by blowing up trains and abusing the enemy at any chance he gets. I wouldn't call his actions, or his character psychopathic; as Lawrence eventually gets tiresome of his own control, power, and determination. The film creates a complex, perhaps sexually and emotionally confused warrior out of Lawrence; intelligently starting the film out with his unfortunate but never-melodramatic demise, and ending with the death of the man he once was within.

People don't rave about the story of the film when you speak to them about it. This is because they remember what they say. That is why the word "experience" exists; you go for the ride, not the storytelling. But as with all great films, and experiences, there is still a story nonetheless, and it is a very good one. There are plenty of things that I will remember about "Lawrence of Arabia". One of them in particular is the way it looked in every beautiful, masterful shot. Another would be that it's instantly become one of my favorite films, period.

Peter O'Toole was an interesting choice for the leading role. This was one of his first big roles, and it got him almost instantly popular with critics, fans, and admirers. I can see why. This was his performance of a life time. His character wasn't written to appeal to historians outside of cinema, as there is some inaccuracy going on there, but he plays Lawrence so convincingly, so boldly, so....believably, that you can't help but smile when it's all over. He, and his equally as wonderful co-stars, makes the ride so very worthwhile.

I consistently refer to "Amadeus", another one of my favorite films, as the "biopic of all biopics". Now, I know that this title has been used to describe "Lawrence of Arabia" by others, but I shall give it the name anyway: the "epic of all epics". This title suits the film. It is a long, all-together-wonderful and even pleasant trip through endless cinematic spectacle. The cinematography is legendary, scene-after-scene feels like you're flipping through a legendary scrap-book, and David Lean's direction is first-rate. This might just be the most entertaining film ever made to contain so much action. But what I love about it is the fact that it can't be properly called an action film, and since "epic" isn't a genre in its own, I believe that you cannot give this film a position in any one genre/area. However, you can still love every damn moment of it, just like I did. This is one of the best films ever made. I love, love, loved it. And I shall watch it again, as frequently as I can, just to see it all unfold yet again.

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More Lawrence of Arabia reviews
review by . December 19, 2008
posted in Screen Gems
Revolt in the Desert
In 1962, director David Lean (Oliver Twist and The Bridge Over the River Kwai) made cinematic history with his epic historical drama, Lawrence of Arabia. The film is perhaps one of the most daring and ambitious films ever made. Utilizing an amazing screenplay written by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson, Lean created a film that is an intimate character study, a harrowing war epic, a spectacular adventure and one of the greatest achievements in the annals of filmic history. Lawrence …
review by . July 01, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: I hate thinking this part up     Cons: This part too     The Bottom Line: Especially this part     The really great thing about Lawrence of Arabia is that it doesn't bother to give its subject the Superman treatment. This is usually a feature of epic movies that revolve around one single, specific person. Spartacus did it, and while Kirk Douglas certainly cut an inspiring and imposing figure, he just seemed to dominate his men too …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #5
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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