Title – Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Director – David Lean (The Bridge On the River Kwai)
Cast – Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins
Plot – The true story of British Officer T.E Lawrence (O’Toole) who led a collection of warring Middle Eastern tribes to battle against the Turkish army in World War 1.
“For some men nothing is written unless THEY write it”
Review by Eddie on 12/08/2020
Regularly regarded and spoken about as one of the greatest film-making feats of all-time, David Lean’s seven time Oscar winning epic (clocking in at a bum-numbing three hours and 48 minutes), Lawrence of Arabia, remains to this day a staggering achievement, unwearied by age or the advancements that have come along since its release over 50 years ago.
A director whose place amongst the most well-regarded artists in cinema is well earned after this effort and other features such as The Bridge On the River Kwai and Doctor Zhivago, Lean and his willing cast and crew went through well over twelve months of sweat inducing work to bring to Arabia to life on the big screen but their blood, sweat and no doubt tears were well worth it as the end results on screen showcase a film full of heart and soul.
Filmed in the unforgiving wind-swept landscapes of Jordan where the films subject matter T.E Lawrence once roamed, Lean alongside his DOP Freddie Young (whose work here has become the stuff of legend) crafted a magnificent cinematic spectacle for the whole world to enjoy as we follow Peter O’Toole’s career making turn as the renowned British officer who defied the odds to unite warring Arab tribes in a fight against the Turkish armed forces in the conflict of World War 1.
We don’t get to see anything of Lawrence’s backstory or history leading up to his plight in the dusty lands of a country he has studied and appreciated for years leading up his charge, but thanks to O’Toole’s lived in performance and Robert Bolt’s finely considered script (which was based heavily on Lawrence’s own written recordings), Lawrence is one of cinema’s most fully realized portrayals of an historical figure, one that lived a life most would only dare but dream of.
Focusing largely on Lawrence’s relationships with Alec Guinness’s Prince Faisel, Anthony Quinn’s Auda Abu Tayi and Omar Sharif’s trusty offsider Sherif Ali, Lean’s film takes place across an incredibly vast canvass as we get intimate character studies taking place around the unforgiving surrounds of the environment these men find themselves in, a world that is dangerous in itself and torn apart by a violent and constantly foreboding war.
An inspiration to many a filmmaker in the years following on from its triumphant release (the worlds most esteemed director Steven Spielberg has long said this is his favorite film), one could spend hours analyzing every portion of Lean’s grand opus, from the achievements it had in crafting its set pieces, the designs of its 100’s of costumes through to the wrangling of the elements that played out around its conception, but simply put, Lean’s film remains a touchstone epic that would never be bettered should someone dare attempt to replicate its tale.
Final Say –
A ground-breaking piece of cinema, the years have not wearied Lawrence of Arabia, a career high-point for all involved and a stunning piece of film history.
5 camels out of 5