Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia

4.4 26
Director: David Lean

Cast: David Lean, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn


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This sweeping, highly literate historical epic covers the Allies' mideastern campaign during World War I as seen through the eyes of the enigmatic T. E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole, in the role that made him a star). After a prologue showing us Lawrence's ultimate fate, we flash back to Cairo in 1917. A bored general staffer, Lawrence talks his way into a transfer to…  See more details below


This sweeping, highly literate historical epic covers the Allies' mideastern campaign during World War I as seen through the eyes of the enigmatic T. E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole, in the role that made him a star). After a prologue showing us Lawrence's ultimate fate, we flash back to Cairo in 1917. A bored general staffer, Lawrence talks his way into a transfer to Arabia. Once in the desert, he befriends Sherif Ali Ben El Kharish (Omar Sharif, making one of the most spectacular entrances in movie history) and draws up plans to aid the Arabs in their rebellion against the Turks. No one is ever able to discern Lawrence's motives in this matter: Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness) dismisses him as yet another "desert-loving Englishman," and his British superiors assume that he's either arrogant or mad. Using a combination of diplomacy and bribery, Lawrence unites the rival Arab factions of Feisal and Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn). After successfully completing his mission, Lawrence becomes an unwitting pawn of the Allies, as represented by Gen. Allenby (Jack Hawkins) and Dryden (Claude Rains), who decide to keep using Lawrence to secure Arab cooperation against the Imperial Powers. While on a spying mission to Deraa, Lawrence is captured and tortured by a sadistic Turkish Bey (Jose Ferrer). In the heat of the next battle, a wild-eyed Lawrence screams "No prisoners!" and fights more ruthlessly than ever. Screenwriters Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson used T. E. Lawrence's own self-published memoir The Seven Pillars of Wisdom as their principal source, although some of the characters are composites, and many of the "historical" incidents are of unconfirmed origin. Two years in the making (you can see O'Toole's weight fluctuate from scene to scene), the movie, lensed in Spain and Jordan, ended up costing a then-staggering $13 million and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The 1962 Royal Premiere in London was virtually the last time that David Lean's director's cut was seen: 20 minutes were edited from the film's general release, and 15 more from the 1971 reissue. This abbreviated version was all that was available for public exhibition until a massive 1989 restoration, at 216 minutes that returned several of Lean's favorite scenes while removing others with which he had never been satisfied. ~ Hal Erickson ~ Erin Demers

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Decades after its initial theatrical release, Lawrence of Arabia remains the quintessential movie epic: lavish, sweeping, and literate, played against a grand historical backdrop and peopled with sharply drawn characters. The Academy Award winner for Best Picture in 1962, it also earned an Oscar for director David Lean (The Bridge on the River Kwai), whose command of filmmaking technique was never more aptly demonstrated. Peter O’Toole achieved international stardom following his portrayal of T. E. Lawrence, the enigmatic British intelligence officer who participated in a 1916 Arab revolt against Turkish oppressors and became a legendary figure throughout the Middle East. The arduous desert campaign is detailed with scope and style, and though Lean and screenwriter Robert Bolt never quite get a handle on their charismatic but cryptic protagonist, they limn memorable secondary characters like Omar Sharif’s fiery rebel chieftain, Alec Guinness’s crafty Arab prince, and Jack Hawkins’s stolid British general. A meticulously crafted film, truly a feast for the eyes and ears, Lawrence of Arabia is also a rousing adventure guaranteed to stir the emotions. The long-awaited DVD version is newly remastered from fully restored film elements and includes four Lawrence featurettes in addition to original newsreel footage of Lawrence himself, as well as a conversation with director and Lawrence fan Steven Spielberg.
All Movie Guide
More of a sensory explosion than a simple movie, Lawrence of Arabia is epic in every sense of the word. Its images--of the desert, of the blinding sun, of Peter O'Toole's golden hair and staggeringly blue eyes--are some of the most memorable ever committed to celluloid, and its musical score remains almost unparalleled in its ability to evoke so many associations with a few simple notes. A richly detailed character portrait rather than a biography or an adventure film, Lawrence is the tale of a man at the mercy of both the desert and his own grand ambitions. As played by O'Toole in a star-making performance, Lawrence was a man whose character was defined as much by sexual ambivalence and thorny enigma as by his considerable vision and will -- in other words, a conflicted, fascinating figure whose personality tended both to inspire and to eclipse his cause. It is fitting that a man larger than life should have his story presented as an epic, and equally fitting that this epic is set in the desert, the only stage magnificent and unforgiving enough to showcase Lawrence's persona. Lawrence of Arabia is almost as remarkable for the story behind it as for the story visible on the screen. Director David Lean's handling of his material is legendary, from days spent on location waiting for the "right" sunrise to his staging of several key scenes, most notably that of the desert mirage that slowly evolves from speck to man. That shot alone could have made the film a legend, conveying the mystery, brutality, and scope of the desert just by remaining still and silent. Lean's respect for the desert is evident in every scene: rather than attempting to manipulate it, he lets it speak for itself. The result is one of the cinema's most iconic visual feasts, perhaps even more so because it was one of the last films to be shot in 70mm (as opposed to being blown up to 70mm from 35mm). Restored and re-released in 1989, 27 years after its initial release, Lawrence was still as beautiful and turbulent as its title character, stunning new and old viewers alike.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures Home
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Special Features

Blu-ray exclusives:; Secrets of Arabia: picture-in-graphics track; Peter O'Toole revisits Lawrence of Arabia; ; Special features:; The making of Lawrence of Arabia documentary; A conversation with Steven Spielberg; Maan, Jordan: the camels are cast; In search of Lawrence; Romance of Arabia; Wind, sand and star: the making of a classic (1970 version); Original newsreel footage of the New York premiere; Theatrical advertising campaigns

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Peter O'Toole T.E. Lawrence
Alec Guinness Prince Feisal
Anthony Quinn Auda abu Tayi
Jack Hawkins Gen. Allenby
Omar Sharif Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish
Claude Rains Mr. Dryden
José Ferrer Turkish Bey
Anthony Quayle Col. Harry Brighton
Arthur Kennedy Jackson Bentley
Donald Wolfit Gen. Murray
I.S. Johar Gasim
Michael Ray Farraj
Gamil Ratib Majid
John Dimech Daud
Hugh Miller RAMC Colonel
Harry Fowler Cpl. Potter
Jack Hedley Reporter
Kenneth Fortescue Allenby's Aide
Howard Marion-Crawford Medical Officer
Zia Mohyeddin Tafas
Henry Oscar Reciter
Norman Rossington Corporal Jenkins
John Ruddock Elder Harith
Fernando Sancho Turkish Sergeant
Stuart Saunders Regimental Sergeant Major
Jack Gwyllim Club Secretary

Technical Credits
David Lean Director,Producer
Robert Bolt Screenwriter
John Box Production Designer
Anne V. Coates Editor
John Cox Sound/Sound Designer
Phyllis Dalton Costumes/Costume Designer
Ernest Day Camera Operator
Maurice Jarre Score Composer
Tony Masters Production Designer
John Palmer Production Manager
Charles Parker Makeup
Cliff John Richardson Special Effects
Tony Rimmington Asst. Director
Dario Simoni Set Decoration/Design
Maude Spector Casting
Sam Spiegel Producer
Roy Stevens Asst. Director
John Stoll Art Director
Morris W. Stoloff Musical Direction/Supervision
Michael Wilson Screenwriter
Freddie Young Cinematographer

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Lawrence of Arabia 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
David Lean¿s 'Lawrence of Arabia' ranks among a handful of truly outstanding, thoroughly deserving Academy Award winning classics. The film has an epic sweep that is both grand and brilliantly conceived, if fictional in its account of the life of T.E. Lawrence. The plot follows Lawrence from his modest beginnings as a somewhat backward and generally bored British officer working in a map room in Cairo. He is plucked from obscurity by Allenbee (Claude Raines) and given the opportunity of a lifetime as special envoy to the Arab Prince Fisel (Alec Guinness). However, after invading and conquering Damascus, Lawrence¿s rise as a cult figure begins to swell his own pride and ego which gradually leads to his own demise. In his debut film appearance, Peter O'Toole delivers a tour de force as the introspective, self appointed master of all he oversees. Omar Shariff is masterful and commanding as Sheriff Ali. Ali¿s initial skepticism toward Lawrence dissolves into a friendship that is both weakened and galvanized through the passage of time. Evergreen chameleon, Alec Guinness is marvelous as Prince Fisel. Shortly after the film¿s world premiere, all prints were cut down in order to accommodate more nightly viewings. David Lean never approved of these cuts but was given the opportunity to revisit ¿Lawrence of Arabia¿ some thirty years later and restore all of the missing footage. The absence of certain audio portions meant that surviving principle cast members were called back in to re-record their lines. The net results of this restoration work were then considered cutting edge. But about the DVDs; ¿Lawrence of Arabia¿ was previously presented in a handsome double disc set from Columbia Tri-Star, then as a single disc, and now, in a supposedly remastered Superbit edition. Film restorer, Robert A. Harris has color corrected the original restoration negative that he previously worked on. The results are a much smoother, more vibrant print with richer, deeper colors that do justice to the film¿s rich texture and starkly beautiful surroundings. Unfortunately, Columbia (after promising they would remove it) has left in all the edge enhancement that was present on the previous DVD transfers. Fine details shimmer excessively in certain scenes. Much of the latter half of the film is plagued by halo effects and a considerable amount of pixelization. These effects are terribly distracting. Despite Superbit's claim to offer the best picture quality available to the home consumer - this disc simply does not hold up! Also, the break in the film DOES NOT come at the intermission, where one might expect it. While the Superbit doctrine claims that this has been done in order to preserve the integrity of the image quality, it is difficult to take that claim serious when DVD transfers like 'Hello Dolly!' have managed to fit their entire 144 min. running time onto a single sided disc with no traces of edge enhancement or shimmering included! The audio has been further cleaned up and, for the most part, sounds wonderful. There are no extras on the Superbit edition. The 2 disc special edition includes an audio commentary, an extensive making of documentary, several featurettes and theatrical trailers made at the time the film was being conceived.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am partly posting this in response to the other reviews. This film is an acknowledged masterpiece. It is an engrossing, beautifully shot, remarkably acted work. The dissolving of Lawrence as the war wears on him is as intimate a character study as you will see even as it is on the backdrop of war and struggle in the dessert. Insightful and prescient, it is even more relevant today. Worth watching if only for the justifiably ballyhooed "mirage" shot. Any lover of movies who doesn't hold Transformers in high regard owes it to themselves to see this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I find it sad and rather frightening that people can give a movie like Lawrence of Arabia three stars. IT IS A CLASSIC! There is no doubt about it, Lawrence of Arabia is one of the greatest movies of all time. Winner of Best Picture, Number five on AFI's Top 100 Movies...NUMBER FIVE! How can anyone give such a great movie THREE STARS! It has action, adventure, drama, and some of the best acting I've ever seen by Peter O Toole. Even more importantly, it gives you a look into the mind and soul of one man...T.E. Lawrence.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lawrence of Arabia is a wonderful film because there is a certain amount of depth that you just don't find in many good films anymore. It told the story of how T.E. lawrence led the arab revolt, a story very few people know about. The acting is superb and the musical score is beautiful as well as the sets. You should watch this film because it is not only entertainment, but contains a good deal of history in it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite movies. It has great acting and was filmed beautifully.
JL_Garner More than 1 year ago
I was surprised to realize that I'd never watched David Lean's 1962 epic "Lawrence of Arabia." It was well worth the wait. At once a huge story of international politics and the British-backed Arabian fight for freedom from the Ottoman Empire, it's also an intensely personal story of one man's journey from nobody to historic figure, and how it almost breaks him. Peter O'Toole is brilliant as the enigmatic T.E. Lawrence, but I actually found myself drawn more to the supporting characters -- Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif), Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn), and Prince Feisal (the chameleonlike Alec Guinness). Beautifully filmed, and with one of the most memorable film scores of all time, "Lawrence" really lives up to the adjective "masterpiece." My only regret is that I don't have a larger TV screen on which to appreciate the stunning visuals.
TomZap More than 1 year ago
The music, the setting, the story line and the acting all make this film one of the all time greats. One that needs to be in everyones library of films. Hollywood just does not make movies like this anymore.
dried_squid More than 1 year ago
I vaguely remembered this movie when it originally came out. I remembered Peter O'Toole, and the photographic vistas. And the music. At the time of this purchase, I was thinking adventure movie, a Middle Eastern setting, English school gent in a war in the desert. Yup. Got that. Note I am not a history buff, my interest was simply story and movie. Inside of the story and movie, the five actors listed above, the unfolding of the events, and their interplay, was worth this second viewing. One wonders, aside from parameters of scale, if there's much difference today when the thousand-year old cultures of the Middle East allow Western industrial culture, eg. the Brits, to play in the sands of their deserts. At the very least, it's an adventure.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
''He was the most extraordinary man I ever knew.'' One of the greatest movies of all time!This great screen epic, starring an amazing Peter O'Toole (in his first major role) as T. E. Lawrence, is a masterpiece of cinema, and director David Lean's best work (which says a lot). The story concerns Lawrence's revolt against Turkey during World War I. Besides being a brilliant historical epic, the film is also a brilliant character piece; O'Toole's performance and the insightful screenplay bring Lawrence's character to life as few characters of cinema ever have. You will never forget these characters!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
First off, who in their right mind would make a 3+ hour movie about some dude roaming the desert? You spend five minutes alone with Lawrence, and then it’s off to the boring desert. You spend an hour chasing a guy who is lost in the desert and Lawrence goes after him! How more stupid can you get? His reason for going to the desert is ‘It’s clean.’ I mean, come on! It’s stupid, dull, and the action is as about as exiting as that of a wine commercial. I fell asleep while watching this film. My advice is just stay away or you’ll wonder what you could have been doing with those 3+ hours.