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Friday, June 5, 2015

Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean 1962)


Arguably the most epic film to have ever graced the screen, Lawrence of Arabia is a biographical adventure drama directed by David lean and starring Peter O'Toole in his career-defining role as T.E. Lawrence.
The movie starts with the death of T.E. Lawrence in 1935 as the result of a motorcycle accident. As a reporter tries to piece together the life of Lawrence, the movie flashes back to 1917 Cairo, where he was stationed and transferred from to assess the possibility of Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness) becoming an ally against the Turks. After Lawrence wins the trust of the Prince, Sherif Ali's (Omar Sharif) and tribe leader Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn), he manages to take the port town of Aqaba with only fifty Arab men, thereby providing the British with a much needed strategic port. From there on in Lawrence wages a guerrilla war against the Turks, becomes a pawn for the Allies, is captured and tortured by the Turks, only to emerge on the edge of madness and participate in a massacre with an army of mercenaries when the Arabs take Damascus, which in turn is taken again by the British.

One of the greatest films in the history of cinema, Lawrence of Arabia redefined epic with its spectacular Super Panavision 70 cinematography of the desert, its huge set pieces and stunning score by Maurice Jarre. A character study of a complex and conflicted larger-than-life man, the film provided Peter O'Toole with his breakthrough role and featured a large cast which, in addition to those mentioned above, also included Jack Hawkins, José Ferrer, Claude Rains, Anthony Quayle and Arthur Kennedy. A sumptuous visual feast, Lawrence of Arabia was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning seven for Best Film, Director, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Sound and Score. The film also won four Golden Globes (including Best Film and Director) and four BAFTA Awards (including Best Film, Actor and Screenplay). The film premiered in December 1962 at a length of 222 minutes but was cut down to 202 minutes for its release in January 1963. In 1971 a further 15 minutes were excised until the film was restored to a "director's cut" of 216 minutes in 1989. The greatest epic ever filmed, Lawrence of Arabia is simply legendary.

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