by Russell Lawrence
Sunday I woke up at 10 am in order to make sure I wasn’t late to see “Lawrence of Arabia” at Riverrun. It was the last screening I saw at the festival and I’m so glad that I made the effort to see it. While it was the director’s cut that I watched in 70mm at UNCSA (run time: three and a half hours), I found myself being utterly amazed with the cinematography and Peter O’ Toole’s performance.
poster from the remastered Lawrence of Arabia, 1962
The film was originally released in 1962 and won 7 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Music Score. Additionally, Peter O’ Toole and Omar Sharif were both nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. The film also stars Old Ben Kenobi’s actor, Alec Guiness.
Basically this is a really good film. It’s not 100 percent historically accurate, but Peter O’ Toole’s performance is so interesting. With his nuances it’s clear that he and the director were intending to portray Lawrence as not only a soldier in the British army who stood out, but also could have been homosexual. This could be in part because O’ Toole himself was homosexual and one of the only actors in Hollywood at the time who was not ashamed to represent the gay community so openly.
His character, T.E. Lawrence was one of the bravest men in history. He served in the Great War and was sent to Arabia because of his education and knowledge of the Bedouin tribes. What the British commanders didn’t account for was that Lawrence would go against their orders, organize the different Arabian tribes, and overtake the Turkish forces in the Peninsula.
still from Lawrence of Arabia, 1962
Despite his achievements, T.E. Lawrence was not a man of war. He was a great tactician and could face the harsh environments of the barren deserts. But, he became consumed with bloodthirst and grew to hate Arabia and himself. The picture is extremely depressing, but all the while breathtaking and truly moving.
I can’t describe what seeing it was like, especially on the big screen. I can only ask you to imagine it, frame for frame.
stills from Lawrence of Arabia, 1962
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