Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia ★★★½

While David Lean’s vision looks vastly more epic and magical on 70mm, this is quite an intimate and at times challenging film. It questions morality on both sides, and is a revisionist history situation where aspects had to be amped up for cinematic purposes, which isn’t my issue with this movie. It simply overstays its welcome, and isn’t the well oiled machine that The Bridge on the River Kwai is (I can watch Alec Guinness and William Holden banter with their respective counterparts all day). That said, what a stellar cast, Peter O’Toole IS Lawrence, but Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn are equally impressive, the latter two exceeding despite the brownface casting decisions. It was the early 60s, so not only is it forgivable, it’s expected. 

O’Toole plays a flamboyant, perhaps gay man, and the homosexual undertones, although subtle enough, are present. It’s such an intense, passionate lead performance that one feels the inner turmoil of the character, an uncomfortable feeling which I feel was deliberate on Lean’s part. Maurice Jarre’s score is by far the star of the show though, it’s haunting and sweeping scale carries you through the duration, though a lot of that must be credited to the editing and pacing (the match cut never gets old). 

Freddie Young shoots this thing like he’s trying to end up on every top 10 cinematography list ever, rightfully so, though the awesome location scouting has a lot to do with it. I can’t pretend to absolutely love this film, its one of those classics I really like instead, it’s a tough one to watch at times, and its subject matter and way of telling its story don’t always hit home. Its ability to keep you interested despite its runtime is undeniable, and it’s incredible seeing all of these legendary artists working together to create an epic with a capital E.

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