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Lawrence of Arabia
Drama, Adventure, Biography, History, War
IMDB rating:
David Lean
Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence
Alec Guinness as Prince Feisal
Anthony Quinn as Auda abu Tayi
Jack Hawkins as General Lord Edmund Allenby
Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali
José Ferrer as Turkish Bey
Anthony Quayle as Colonel Brighton
Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden
Arthur Kennedy as Jackson Bentley
Donald Wolfit as General Sir Archibald Murray
I.S. Johar as Gasim
Gamil Ratib as Majid
Michel Ray as Farraj
John Dimech as Daud
Storyline: 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.
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The first time I saw Lawrence of Arabia was in 1963 and I wanted not to like it, since Peter O'Toole had been so vaunted as the shoe-in Oscar winner for that year and I wanted Burt Lancaster to win for Birdman of Alcatraz. I came away from that movie very much impressed by its physical beauty but even more captivated by Lawrence himself. With all the grandeur of the scenes, for me the story of a man so complicated and full of mystery was what I took away from it driving home from the theater. I went right to my local library to get T.E. Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and even read most of its thousand-plus pages. For me, amidst the spectacle and sweep of the movie, the idea of this conflicted man who thought he was godlike and was humbled, not only by his physical nature but also by his ability to betray that which he thought he loved, made Lawrence of Arabia unique. I'd never seen an epic movie quite like that before or since ... and it also made me become a Peter O'Toole fan forever! I saw "Lawrence" one other time in big-screen and probably about ten more times on tv, and I never tire of it. It deserves its reputation as a classic portrayal of the mystery of personality amidst the chaos and hypocrisy of a "great war."
arey bhiya lawrence ...... cut it out !
Lawrence of Arabia......an epic and a saga movie of a man in Arabia and those lot of things he does between Arabs and European powers. A huge cinema of a long duration as a memoir told in about 228 minutes (12 minutes less then 4 hours).

Well well well, so far so good.....but let me 'inquire' whats all this fuss about. I mean why was this long and big movie created, won Oscar, and is rated very high? I found this film as a really monotonous, although not complete boring account, plain, colorless, eventfully eventless, dramatically hopeless, forlorn, woebegone, abject-ed journey, despairing account of events that were so so so artificial that such kind of artificiality may be considered as a new kind of film style by movie geeks (scholars).

I will compare it with the title of the film I just found "Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bridge of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Alien, Flesh Eating, Hellbound, Zombified Living Dead Part 2".
A good film, for those who like the type
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 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 Turks

5 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)
Unpretentious, direct, sweeping story

I watched this for the first time in widescreen. I found Alec Guinness distracting, as he is obviously not an Arab; and there is nary a word of Arabic spoken in the entire film beyond names and places. Omar Sharif may remind of you Wes Bently who starred in a similar epic, "The Four Feathers".

The film is more art than entertainment. It is long and a bit languid at times, but the photography is like nothing seen since, the score is beautiful (though a bit intrusive at times, as was the style for the era), the production is flawless (observe the city of Akahba).

The unpretentious, direct, sweeping story characterized the film for me.
Hard to believe that after 45 years of loving movies, I finally got around to seeing Lawrence of Arabia. As with many films that make a huge impact on me, I dreamt about it that night. I dreamt of flowing white silk robes, decorated horses and sand. Lots of sand. Many have already given a synopsis and cast list, many have listed the films assets. For me, after the experience (and trust me, at 227 minutes, it's an experience) I was left feeling stunned and empty, stunned by the depiction of the desert, empty from the realization that nothing within the dark expanses of human experience really changes. Yes to one reviewer who was not sure Lawrence ever existed. He did. A very complicated man, shy yet full of an odd bravado, Lawrence reveled in the drama of a land he loved but could not be part of. He sought adventure and when it came, was overwhelmed and ultimately disappointed that his life was not like the childhood adventure tales he undoubtedly read. The film tells his story in broad strokes, very strong characters surround Lawrence, whose character is played brilliantly by O'Toole who stays quietly charismatic (as well as physically beautiful) creating an enigma that is never really understood. You're left wondering how the hell he got away with what he did, yet amazed that it happened. The futility of war is tempered with the romanticism it creates. People come together in common causes, strong relationships develop, heroes emerge. Wars are full of such scenarios and inspirational tales. But this is at heart the story of a film flam game, a bait and switch played on a grand scale with an Empirical Western giant manipulating desperate peoples using one of their flamboyant yet influential soldiers as a ploy. This con game was the undoing of T. E. Lawrence and he spent the rest of his life in guilt, trying to escape his fame, changing his name, reluctant to accept profits from his memoirs and wondering if the adventure had been worth it.
All Around Perfect!
Lawrence of Arabia is said to be the best epic ever made and I understand why. In order for an epic to succeed, it has to hold the viewers' attentions throughout the film. Of course there can be moments of down time, but every movie has that. Lawrence of Arabia not only holds attention, it feature everything to make a great movie at all-time heights.

Lawrence of Arabia is easily the best movie made about the First World War. Being the best epic is arguable, but there's only a margin of movies about WW1 and none are simply better than this. Newcomer Peter O'Toole is dead-on as Thomas Edward Lawrence--a role many people say he should have won for instead of Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. If O'Toole did win, the backlash would be the same. I personally liked O'Toole and Lawrence of Arabia more. Lawrence is a hip and cool soldier who wants adventure and is assigned to help Arabian tribes face the Turks. He unites the different tribes and leads them to victory. Throughout the movie are beautiful images of the sun clearing the sky in the deserts of the middle-east with glamorous music. Watching this movie is like looking at an ocean sunset. No matter how many times you see this or how bored you get, you will not be able to take your eyes off this.

Anybody that does not like this obviously misses the underlying themes and characterizations. As I mentioned, O'Toole is captivating. But everybody else is amazing too. Alec Guinness plays Bedouin Prince Feisel who was actually mistaken by residents for the real prince. Lawrence is a complex, multi-layered character who is one of cinema's all-time greats. He is a rebellious misfit who brings his theories with him to Arabia. Seeing it is his biggest challenge, he tries to become one with the army while still keeping his own self. Lawrence is an idealist. When he turns out to be a success, he lets it all get to his head and his ego grows. He unites the tribes and leads the men in courage than only he could give. We understand why Lawrence becomes vain, but still want him to keep his general humility. When a tragic situation changes his whole perspective, he wants out but his influence brought them far. That is where the themes of inspiration and leadership/influence really soar. Despite a terrible trauma to him, he still stepped up with the aide of people he once inspired to fight. He gained everybody's loyalty and friendship--two crucial things the movie is about. Just one man whom everybody doubted created such a bang and legacy that forever changed history. When the war finishes, unity breaks with disagreements but there is still some peace among the groups. I found that to be realistic instead of a picture- perfect happy-ending where everybody becomes best friends.

I wouldn't say Lawrence of Arabia is sad entirely, there's just one depressing scene. But it is not happy either. It is all fully realistic and we have characters and situations where we can be proud of. The movie succeeds in everything it tries to get across, which is more than enough. Literally everything this movie has is perfection.
Makes a Strong Case for Best Film Ever.
The definitive epic of the cinema's history. "Lawrence of Arabia" is hands-down the finest production of the 1960s and makes a strong case as the best movie ever made. The titled character (Oscar-nominee Peter O'Toole in his career-defining role) dies in a freak motorcycle accident in the early-1930s in his homeland of England. In spite of being honored by the nation, many knew nothing of him. Some loved him, others despised him, but no one seemed to know the man at all. Flashbacks immediately start as we meet the character during World War I. He is a lieutenant assigned to mundane duties, but suddenly he is thrust into a greater role in North Africa. He is to assist a Saudi Arabian prince (Alec Guinness). The goal is to fight off the dreaded Turkish regime that poses a threat to the Arabs. If the Turks take over this land in Africa, what will it mean for the English? This concern leads to those in charge (most notably Claude Rains) wanting the titled character to help the Arabs to win their freedom back from the Turks. With the help of allies Omar Sharif (Oscar-nominated) and Anthony Quinn, among a whole host of others, O'Toole starts to assist the Arabs in their all-or-nothing task. An ambitious American journalist (Arthur Kennedy) wants to tell O'Toole's story in the hopes of getting the U.S. interested in the war (basically trying to get his nation involved in World War I by presenting them with a larger-than-life hero). During the venture O'Toole becomes a bit war-crazed and looks at himself as a sort of Christ-like figure who thinks of himself as immortal. O'Toole proves to be someone who is very at home in combat and when the combat is over, will he be able to function properly? Franklin J. Schaffner's "Patton" benefited greatly from David Lean's (Oscar-winning for directing) masterpiece. This Best Picture Oscar winner from 1962 just grows in importance as the years pass by. "Lawrence of Arabia" is a thinking person's film that is much, much deeper than it appears on the surface (and it appears deep on the surface to start with). The film deals with a slice of history that really did not seem that important back during World War I, but the situations in the Middle East now are greatly due to T.E. Lawrence's acts nearly a century ago. Did leading the Arabs to freedom make the world a safer place? This is the main question that Lean's film raises. Guinness' character is someone who changes almost immediately near the end of the production and it is a somewhat frightening foreshadower of things to come. A monumental milestone in film-making that stands so tall against all the other great productions of all eras. 5 stars out of 5.
All men dream: but not equally
I first watched Lawrence in the stupidest way possible, with a ruined, skipping DVD on an absurdly small PC screen, lying on the bed during an incandescent August afternoon, to kill time before returning to the beach.

It's a testament to this milestone of cinema how, in spite of everything, I still found myself swept away by the gorgeous visuals, by Jarre's haunting score, by O'Toole's fey Lawrence: his character arc from showy dreamer to overconfident warrior/poet and finally to bitter, disillusioned legend is one of the most compelling ever filmed.

Seldom in my movie-going experience I have been as thrilled by a character entrance as by Sheriff Ali's, still a black dot on the horizon as he shoots a man for the water of a well; as disturbed as by the nightmarish scene in Daraa and its implied horror; as betrayed as by the transmogrification of Alec Guinness' Prince Feisal from soft-spoken paternal figure to shrewd, manipulative politician; as exhilarated by cinematic craft as by the cut from the match to the rising sun, or the panning shot of the assault on Aqaba.

Epic at its finest: when Lawrence steps on a puddle and smiles as he appears to be walking on water, it tells us more about him than a whole hour of exposition would.

A vital, timeless masterpiece.

Torture/Rape sequence
Lawrence of Arabia is probably my all time favorite film. Right now I'm right on the cusp of finishing Seven Pillars of Wisdom written by the historical Lawrence. What I found interesting in the film was the scene in which Lawrence is captured by the Turks and whipped for punching the Officer. But in the book, Seven Pillars, the officer actually captured Lawrence in order to solicit him for sex, whereupon Lawrence kicked the officer in the groin. The enraged officer then has Lawrence whipped for not pleasuring him, and proceeds to have sex with a Turkish sergeant. I found the contrast between book and movie interesting, but rather necessary for the generic film audience of 1962.
Epic in every way
Epic in every way.

The story of TE Lawrence, the English officer who united and lead the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War 1 in order to fight the Turks. This unity and fight for freedom ultimately lead to the independent Arab states that we now know.

Grand in its ambition, grand in its scale, grand in its scenery and cinematography, grand in its running time. Director David Lean captures well the adventures and achievements of Lawrence, as well as his personality, contradictions and inner conflicts.

Superb cinematography - the desert vistas are a key positive of the movie.

The running time - 3 1/2 hours - does make the movie a bit of an endurance test though. Not that it is ever dull, it is just the sheer amount of time you need to set aside to watch it. Usually I would say, for something like that, that a bit of editing is in order, but there is very little that can be edited out. Almost every scene is integral to the plot. Towards the end, however, there were one or two scenes that could possibly have been cut though.

Great work from Peter O'Toole in the lead role, for which he received an Oscar nomination. Good support from a cast that includes Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle and Claude Rains. Omar Sharif received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance.
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