Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  • Time: 210 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Biography | Drama
  • Director: David Lean
  • Cast: Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn


An inordinately complex man who has been labeled everything from hero, to charlatan, to sadist, Thomas Edward Lawrence blazed his way to glory in the Arabian desert, then sought anonymity as a common soldier under an assumed name. The story opens with the death of Lawrence in a motorcycle accident in Dorset at the age of 46, then flashbacks to recount his adventures: as a young intelligence officer in Cairo in 1916, he is given leave to investigate the progress of the Arab revolt against the Turks in World War I. In the desert, he organizes a guerrilla army and–for two years–leads the Arabs in harassing the Turks with desert raids, train-wrecking and camel attacks. Eventually, he leads his army northward and helps a British General destroy the power of the Ottoman Empire.

One comment

  • T.E. Lawrence was certainly no ordinary man. With Middle East interests from an early age, he later entered British Army Intelligence and served as the political liaison officer in a revolt against the Turks during WWI. He was the titular focus of today’s war classic, the seven Academy Award winning Lawrence of Arabia, directed by David Lean (Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago).

    Beginning in a similar fashion to Gandhi, T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) is killed in a motorcycle accident in 1935. At his funeral, a reporter is digging around to find out about his past. Cue wartime epic movie. During WWI, the British are allied with Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness), who is revolting against the Turks. The eccentric Lawrence is sent to investigate his chances of victory. He is advised by Colonel Brighton (Anthony Quayle) to simply observe, but when Faisal takes kindly to Lawrence, he assists the Prince in launching a surprise attack against the Turks. The rest of the film sees Lawrence push a guerrilla war against the Turks, with train explosions and huge clashes between Arabic forces; it’s an incredibly interesting story, and is generally considered to be historically accurate, with much of the film being based on Lawrence’s own book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

    Lawrence of Arabia is one of the many epics from an era of cinema that was defined by ‘spectacle’. Shot in 65mm, principal photography took a year and a half to complete, with locations ranging from Morocco and Jordan, to Spain. The script wasn’t even complete when filming began. The result though, is an extravagant look at the life of an extraordinary man. Although I do have one complaint. It is incredibly long. I enjoy a good epic as much as the next film nerd, but at its restored 3 hours and 48 minutes running time, Lawrence of Arabia has always been just too long for me to remain fully immersed.

    Read the full review over at

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