Maria’s review published on Letterboxd:
✨ 1000th film ✨
Lawrence of Arabia is monumental. It towers over you first with its imposing score, then with the vastness of its deserts. But spectacle pales in comparison to the man at the center of it all: T.E. Lawrence, whose role in the revolt of the Arab tribes against the Ottoman Empire during WWI was crucial. Lawrence doesn’t seem aware of it, however. He’s young, lanky, his words charm everyone around him, and his place seems to be anywhere but on a battlefield. Despite that, he keeps his calm through every negotiation and march through the desert, taking everything one action at a time.
Lawrence’s attitude is defiant of the British sometimes: he’d rather act on his own masochistic tendencies and in the interest of the people that have welcomed him than according to the wishes of those who have sent him there in the first place. Likewise, the scope of his goal is irrelevant to him, his actions more reckless and immediate than working towards something larger, yet he achieves his mission, and his untraditional methods make him a hero.
It’s surprising that David Lean went from classic literary adaptations and self-contained romances like Brief Encounter and Summertime to epics, but it’s his origins in genres where humanity is front and center that make something like Lawrence of Arabia work. While the spectacle is there in all of its magnificent glory, Lawrence of Arabia always comes back to its unassuming hero and the brokenness within him.