"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Monday, November 9, 2020

Movie Review: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Hello, everyone.
Before I get into my review I want to say how deeply saddened I was yesterday when I heard that the world had lost Alex Trebek. His battle with cancer was so hard. Jeopardy! is one of my favorite game shows, and his reassuring presence will be missed more than I can say.

Last winter my dad, older sister and I got onto a kick of watching Best Picture Oscar winning war films. It was all my idea because I am trying to watch movies off of my 1001 Movies To See Before You Die list. We watched three movies: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) in October, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) in January, and Patton (1970) in February. After that we were really burned out because they were all multi-hour spectaculars, but we are thinking about starting another round as there are still many that we havenʼt seen. Iʼve reviewed the other two, so now itʼs time for the final one!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. This is spoiler free! Which was hard to do, but I succeeded.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962):
Based on: The life of T. E. Lawrence, from Seven Pillars of Wisdom - by T. E. Lawrence. 
During World War I, T. E. Lawrence is given a new task from the British army. He is sent to talk with Prince Faisel about helping them with his army of native people against to Turks. To do that, Lawrence must journey through the desert. It is hard, but he bravely goes forward into the desert, befriending all whom he can and trying to collect various tribes into an agreement. He is known for his insolence and daring, and continues that as he ignores his orders and suggests new, daring, and reckless plans of attack. Is it possible for all of these people to follow him, and how will he accept the respect and admiration that he is receiving?
“Big things have small beginnings.” 
Biography, Drama, War.
Length: approx. 228 minutes. You read that correctly, this movie is so long itʼs crazy. We actually watched it in four parts over four nights because of that, with about an hour each time.
Script: 8, only one bad word and one time a name is taken in vain.
“It seems to me that you are free to choose your own name.”
Crew: Directed by: David Lean. Written by: T.E. Lawrence, Robert Bolt, & Michael Wilson.
Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence.
“Time to be great again.”
Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal. 
Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali.
Anthony Quinn as Auda Abu Tayi.  
Jack Hawkins as General Allenby.
Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden
Anthony Quayle as Colonel Brighton. 
Arthur Kennedy as Jackson Bentley.
José Ferrer as Turkish Bey.
Donald Wolfit as General Murray.
Michel Ray as Farraj.
John Dimech as Daud.
I.S. Johar as Gasim.
Gamil Ratib as Majid.
Zia Mohyeddin as Tafas.
Howard Marion-Crawford as Medical Officer.
Jack Gwillim as Club Secretary.
Hugh Miller as R.A.M.C. Colonel.
If you read anything about this movie, you know the craziness that they went through with casting. Almost every character was cast multiple times. They say that they tried so hard to make Alec Guinness look like Prince Faisel that while they were shooting the film in Jordan some people who knew the late Prince Faisel actually thought it was him. José Ferrerʼs role is so small that I barely remember it, but he had a salary of $25,000, which was more than Omar Sharif and Peter OʼToole put together had.
Costumes: 9, there are times when people arenʼt wearing shirts, but it didnʼt really bother me. In fact, one of my favorite parts was all about clothing (am I being vague? Yes, yes I am).
Not this part. But, first thing into the movie my dad said, "He looks like Maz Kanata."
Costumes by:
Phyllis Dalton.
Cinematography: 10, guys, guys. GUYS. My sister and I were talking and wondering how much time they spent just filming this stuff because it is pretty incredible. These sweeping desert scenes are jaw dropping. There is a scene that is like, 10 minutes long, where we are doing nothing but staring at the desert. Iʼm not kidding (okay, maybe it isnʼt that much time, but itʼs a lot). Another scene where my sister and I just couldnʼt believe our eyes is kind of a spoiler to mention, so I wonʼt, but it was like nothing Iʼve ever seen. You have to see it to believe it.
This image doesn't do it justice.
Cinematography by:
F.A. Young.
Music: 9, after watching it I had the score stuck in my head for days and would do nothing but hum it. I donʼt usually have that happen. Something about it is so gripping! You can tell that since then it has inspired lots of things. I especially noticed parts that reminded me of Aladdin (1992). Iʼm listening to it right now, and Iʼm sure Iʼll have it stuck in my head for another couple of days now.
Music by: Maurice Jarre.
Quotability: 5, I havenʼt quoted this at all since then, but thatʼs not to say that there arenʼt good lines. I sadly canʼt put too many because I canʼt read my handwriting when I took notes. Ooops.
“Yes general, you have lied most bravely.”
Oscars won: 7: Best Picture, Best Director (David Lean), Best Music Score -- Substantially Original, Best Sound, Best Art Direction -- Color, Best Cinematography -- Color, and Best Film Editing.
Peter OʼToole was nominated for Best Actor, and while he did a great job, Iʼm very happy that Gregory Peck won it for his role of Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird (1962). Whenever I talk about the Oscars Iʼm bound to mention the 1962 ceremony because so many good movies were made that year!
6, this movie is intense, and a lot of that comes from the content. There is a lot of death, killing, blood and fighting, as this is a war movie. Something that was talked about was enjoying killing people. I think that what they had to say was important, but it couldʼve been handled a slight bit better just to make one or two things more obvious. All the same, it is made to show how bad war is.
Originality: 9, I always feel obliged to give stories based on real people a high score here because their lives are all so different. In addition to that, it really ripped me apart more than most stories do. Points for originality there! About halfway through I felt where it was going. I didnʼt know the exact details, but I just had this feeling that I knew was what I was supposed to feel at the end.
Good For: History fans, fans of the actors, fans of amazing cinematography and music. Honestly, I think that this is one of those movies that everyone should see sometime in their life, if they are willing to spare that many hours. It is by no means a cheerful movie, but it is important.
Age Range: It is rated PG but I should note that this was before there was a PG-13 rating, so it would probably get that nowadays. It is grueling to watch this because it is so long. I have a hard time paying attention for that long and Iʼm sure most little kids are the same way. Just because of that I would say it is best for 15 and older, but there is a possibility that it could be a good history lesson to someone a little younger, too.
Overall Score: 8.
These two were my favorites.
Worth watching?:
Yes, Iʼm very glad that I watched it. The way that the orphan boys Daud and Farraj treated Lawrence (and said his name) was so cute. As I said, this movie will really tear you apart because of how intense it is. Iʼm feeling all destroyed just thinking about it. This was the middle film that my dad, sister, and I watched, and I liked it in the middle. I didnʼt love it as much as The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), but I didnʼt dislike it and find it as boring as Patton (1970).
Will I watch again?: My younger sister has never seen it, so I think that Iʼll show it to her some day, but maybe years from now.

For the blogathon:
I havenʼt been able to join in the last two years, so I made sure of it this time. When looking through the list of films that Claude Rains made I saw this and decided that it was perfect timing.

The amazing thing about this movie is that most of the characters are based on real people! There are some fictional characters in here for the sake of the story, but they all feel like they couldʼve been real as well and some were based on a few different real life characters and just combined into one.

The “real life” characters are:
E. T. Lawrence, Prince Faisal, Auda Abu Tayi, General Allenby, General Murray, Daud and Farraj, and Talal. (I know this thanks to Wikipedia).
The “fictional” characters are:
Sherif Ali, Mr. Dryden, Colonel Brighton, and Jackson Bentley. (Check out Wikipedia HERE for more details on who they are based on)

As you see, Claude Rainsʼs character is fictional, but all the same he is important to the movie. We donʼt get a lot of screen time with him, but you could say that he initiates Lawrenceʼs inciting incident. (Can you tell that Iʼm in the craziness of NaNoWriMo and am very focused on all those technical phrases?). Mr. Dryden is from the Arab Bureau and he is the one who suggests that Lawrence is the one to do the job concerning Prince Faisal, even though others werenʼt sure that he was the right person. After that he appears a few times throughout the film. He is the person who sends other people to do the work and just pulls the strings.

His character wasnʼt particularly likable to me, but the portrayal was so well done by Claude Rains! This was close to the end of his career. Every time that I watch a new movie with him I am astounded by the depth to his acting abilities. It is great to watch!

In fact, so many of the actors in here were so great! I do get that it is historical and that it is war and because of that there arenʼt many, er...ANY female roles, which I didnʼt notice until right now. Anyway, the actors who stood out to me were:

Alec Guinness: He is flat out amazing in everything, and this is no exception. Iʼm sorry, but he was my favorite part.
Omar Sherif: As soon as I saw him I thought, “Oh no! Itʼs Doctor Zhivago!” I actively loathe that movie, so thank you for reminding me. “While youʼre at it, why donʼt you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?” (Sorry, I couldnʼt help myself...). But, I was really shocked by how strong his acting was. From the beginning I disliked him, but he just continued to grow on me and ended up being my second favorite from Alec Guinness. Did you know that Omar Sherif spoke six languages? That is incredible! Here I am struggling with two...

Peter OʼToole: Yes, I will admit that the way he played Lawrence was really moving. Sometimes it moved me in weird directions that I had no idea was coming. This was one of his first roles and I was glad to see it because I like some of his later ones. 
Arthur Kennedy: This was the most different role that Iʼve ever seen from him. Iʼm so used to seeing him as the “baddie” in westerns, that I wasnʼt prepared to have him play a newspaper reporter. He did a great job!

Whew, with that Iʼm going to start wrapping this up! I guess that the longer the film the longer my post about it. Thanks to the Brannans for hosting! Check out the other blogathon entries HERE.

Now tell me, what is the longest movie that youʼve ever watched? Do you ever get burned out on a certain genre? Thank you so much for reading!



  1. This is a great article! I have been curious about this film for some time, and your article was very informative. I've been considering breening it for some time. I can't decide whether your review has made me more eager or afraid to do so! Anyway, I found your thoughts on it fascinating. Thank you so much for joining the blogathon!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    1. Why, thank you, Tiffany! I'm glad to hear that you found my article interesting, and I can relate to how a review sometimes makes me curious and wary at the same time. Oh, I would really enjoy reading your breening of this! You will have a big task because it is so long and there are war scenes to "tweak", but I believe that you will be extremely impressed with the acting! Thanks for hosting this blogathon!

  2. I have wanted to watch this movie, but I didn't realize it was so long. Maybe one of these days.

    1. Yeah, it's quite an ordeal! Maybe if we're stuck inside again this winter for long periods you'll have enough time.

  3. Ooh, I've heard a lot about this movie, but I've never seen it. I want to, though. It looks gooooodddd.

    1. It's long, but the cinematography and music get you into the mood instantly! If you watch it, let me know what you think!

  4. Ahhh, yes, this is one of my sister's favorite movies of all time. So much so that she even sketched a picture of O'Toole as Lawrence and that happens to be one of my favorite pictures she's ever drawn. David Lean's name is cropping up quite a bit for me lately so I'll have to start paying closer attention to the films he directs. I should probably just look him up and see all that he made over the course of his life. I suspect I've loved a lot of his movies without realizing it.

    1. This is a good one for your sister to choose as a favorite. I could watch it a lot and still pick up new parts each time! My sister and I have recently practiced drawing characters and we've found that the more we like them, the better they are, so I'm sure her picture is great! I would love to see it if you ever share it on your blog. I hadn't heard of David Lean until this, but since then I've heard his name a lot, as well. Like in your review of The Passionate Friends!

  5. I've always been vaguely aware of and interested in this movie (and vaguely aware of and interested in the real-life T. E. Lawrence), but wow, this review made me desperate to watch it! It sounds amazing. It kind of sounds like maybe I wouldn't even mind how long it was? Usually I think long movies should be shorter, but this just sounds...good, and the length isn't turning me off.

    Plus Alec Guinness is just a fantastic actor.

    I think the longest movie I've seen was Gone With the Wind? I started out enjoying it WAY more than I expected to, but by the end I hated it. XD I think it should have been shorter.

    Oh, and good luck on NaNoWriMo!

    1. Yes! Making people interested in movies is my job! I've succeeded again. After seeing this I now want to read Lawrence's books to see it through his own words. I get that! Sometimes the time just zooms by and I don't mind. In here, the pacing is slow, but every part is integral to the plot.

      He was epic beyond doubt!

      Ah, yeah. I think Gone With The Wind is just a bit longer than this. I need to rewatch it too, because the first time I didn't understand why it is "one of the best films ever". I still don't. XD

      Thank you, Sarah! I'm having so much fun!

  6. I've never seen this film all the way through, but you've persuaded me to give it another try. I enjoyed your review very much. :)

    1. Yay! That makes me so happy! The last half is really tough, but once you make it through you can see the big picture. :)

  7. Looks like a really neat movie. Dessert movies always seem cool for some reason.


  8. I've heard the name of this, but have somehow never seen it.
    Sounds good!

    1. The aesthetic alone is incredible, and the story is so important.

  9. There's so much spectacle in this movie--this great review makes me want to see it again.

    1. I feel both successful and guilty about that. Guilty because it is so long, but successful because it is worth it!


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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles