Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Approved   |    |  Adventure, Biography, Drama


Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Poster

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.


8.3/10
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4 October 2001 | tedg
A Vision that Defines Itself
A man has an inner drive that makes him peculiar and intense. He goes to the desert and falls in love with it and its people. Gaining powerful sponsors, he has a grand vision that he accomplishes by inspiring and directing thousands. But in a very short time, that grand work is compromised and disassembled by fat cats in offices who are concerned with different values.

True of both Lawrence and Lean. The legacy of Lawrence is still in violent disarray (I write this a short time after the Sept 11 attacks on New York). But Lean's vision was saved, and what a vision! Of this picture, it can be said that it is perfect if only because it is so visionary that it defines its own rules.

Lean's vision is also lean, with vast zones of sonic and visual silence -- several meditations on the unperceived. Though there is a story (who are you?) this is really a film of TE's 'Seven Pillars,' which creates a romantic vision of sculpted natural forces. So powerful a depiction that Islam experienced a faddish attraction in the West, a place now enjoyed by Tibetan Buddhism. That was before.

See here the original Obiwan, every intonation, movement and dress. See here Peter O'Toole's personality become completely entwined with the character, who is as fictionalized by our eye as by Lowell's. See the most expressive, anthropomorphic train wreck in history.

Watch a particularly interesting brand of acting by the 'Arabs.' Macho men are acting anyway, so an actor can play an actor when he lands such a role.

The star of the film is the clever eye of God, not the clockmaker or judge of the west but the chess player of the mirage. Its face is clearest in my mind when the Turk holds TE down for torture and smiles. Its hand in the creaking of Feisal's tent -- who would ever imagine the wind acting? (Kurosawa's 'Ran' at the beginning is the only other example I know.)

I have a few films I admire for various. mostly intellectual qualities. But in the direct matter of visual storytelling, this one tops my list.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the initial release, the joke spread that one patron had gone to the ticket window and requested two seats on the shady side.


Quotes

Colonel Brighton: He was the most extraordinary man I ever knew.
Vicar at St. Paul's: Did you know him well?
Colonel Brighton: I knew him.
Vicar at St. Paul's: Well, nil nisi bonum. But did he really deserve a place in here?


Goofs

At 1 hour 48m 56 seconds Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn) is smashing telegraphic equipment. In front of Auda Abu Tayi is a vacuum tube of approximately 1940 vintage and on the left hand side of the screen is a SupetHet radio receiver again of approximately 1940's vintage (with the tuning capacitor half open). Although vacuum tubes had previously been invented (1904) it is most unlikely that these would have been used in telegraphic equipment in Arabia in 1916. The Morse code heard when Auda Abu Tayi smashes the equipment is of an electronic nature again not available in 1916.


Crazy Credits

The "Columbia" logo that begins the feature is still in original version. However, some versions (like the general theatrical release) replaces it with a animated one.


Alternate Versions

In accordance with a 1995 decision by the Writers Guild of America to give Michael Wilson a co-writing credit (based on documentary evidence that he had been a major contributor to the script), newer copies such as the DVD and the prints made for the 40th anniversary re-release feature the altered credit: "Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson" (previously, only Bolt's name was listed).


Soundtracks

That Is The Desert
Music by
Maurice Jarre
Performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Maurice Jarre

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Adventure | Biography | Drama | History | War

Details

Release Date:

11 December 1962

Language

English, Arabic, Turkish


Country of Origin

UK

Filming Locations

Saudi Arabia

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,846 22 September 2002

Gross USA:

$45,306,425

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$45,715,757

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