David Lean has directed some of the best epics of all time. He set the
standards so high that most filmmakers find it almost impossible to
live up to Lean's sheer epic, cinema craftsmanship. Lawrence of Arabia
was his best. This is a chapter in the life of Captain T. E. Lawrence,
a troubled man who wasn't as comfortable with his own eccentricities
but certainly made up for them by becoming a charismatic leader of armies
that changed nations and the world. Soon he does, but the action in
which he is involved changes him. The movie is about how Lawrence grows from an idealistic young man to a
battle hardened man who discovers that he likes killing, and yet is
repulsed by it.
describes how Lawrence was one of the principals involved in Arab independence,
and the movie is about some of the seminal moments in the uniting of
many of the Arab tribes. The movie also provides as much imagery about
Lawrence's psychology as it does about his actions, because his psychology,
from being able to put out a match with his bare fingers to calling
for the elimination of a fleeing column of Turkish troops with the taking
of no prisoners, provides insights into the complex psyche of the person
of T. E. Lawrence. He was an adventurer and a historian who just happened
to be in the right place at the right time to be useful to, the British
army who were trying to drive the Ottoman Empire from Arabia, and the warring
Arab tribes for their uprising in the desert lands.
of David Lean epics has always been his ability as a director to maintain
equilibrium between the scope of his films and the characters in them.
Character development is never sacrificed to massive set pieces or knock-your-socks-off
action sequences. This film has these elements too, but at heart it's
a character study of one remarkable man. Lean seemed to understand that
impressive landscapes alone are not inherently interesting; but if you
place a fascinating character among those impressive landscapes, you
can have movie magic. Lawrence won many Oscars including Best Picture,
Best Director and Best Photography. It was Peter O'Tooles first film
and a great beginning for the career of Omar Sharif who went on to star
in David Lean's next film: Dr Zhivago.
are exquisitely executed. The fights are extremely well choreographed,
and I admire the stamina and dedication of the hundreds of people involved
in the creation of this movie as they created this movie in desert temperatures.
Given the care that is taken with safety in modern films, I believe
this movie would be extremely difficult to film in the same way today.