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100

Universal acclaim - based on 7 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 227 Ratings

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  • Starring:
  • Summary: The 40th anniversary re-release of David Lean's 1962 masterpiece, starring Peter O'Toole in one of the most electrifying debuts in film history.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. 100
    Released in 1962, it was pretty clearly the most intelligent spectacular within living memory. On its 40th anniversary, it's even better.
  2. Reviewed by: Janice Page
    100
    Lawrence is back on the big screen, and it simply demands to be seen. Yes, again.
  3. Reviewed by: Staff [not credited]
    100
    David Lean's splendid biography of the enigmatic T.E. Lawrence paints a complex portrait of the desert-loving Englishman who united Arab tribes in battle against the Ottoman Turks during WWI.
  4. 100
    Riveting from beginning to end, featuring stellar performances, amazing cinematography, and a story without a trace of fat, the film does everything an epic is supposed to do - and more.
  5. 100
    What a bold, mad act of genius it was, to make Lawrence of Arabia, or even think that it could be made.
  6. It's perhaps only because it can't be seen in its full glory on television that "Lawrence" isn't ranked more highly on some recent all-time "best film" lists. But it belongs near the very top. It's an astonishing, unrepeatable epic.
  7. In short, they don't make 'em like this one anymore. Viewing it is like taking a time machine to a movie age that was more naive than our own in some ways, more sophisticated and ambitious in others.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 41
  2. Negative: 2 out of 41
  1. Apr 29, 2015
    10
    The historical epic has been a staple of the motion picture industry since the silent era. Over the years, it has evolved to mesh with theThe historical epic has been a staple of the motion picture industry since the silent era. Over the years, it has evolved to mesh with the times and meet audiences' expectations. Viewers in the 1910s got D.W. Griffith's racist Birth of a Nation, while movie-goers in the 2000s were poleaxed by the trite but visually impressive Pearl Harbor. In between lie the best of the epics, and, while it's impossible to single out one as being at the inarguable top of the heap, David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia is certainly a contender for the position. Riveting from beginning to end, featuring stellar performances, amazing cinematography, and a story without a trace of fat, the film does everything an epic is supposed to do - and more.

    Lawrence of Arabia recounts the larger-than-life exploits of T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole), an officer in the British army serving in the Middle East during World War I, who, according to one observer, "was a poet, a scholar, and a mighty warrior. He was also the most shameless exhibitionist since Barnum & Bailey." The film opens in 1935, with a prologue that shows Lawrence's death as a result of a motorcycle accident, followed by his funeral. The time frame then shifts back more than 20 years to Cairo, where Lawrence is about to begin the greatest adventure of his career. His commanding officer orders him to enter the desert and make contact with the Bedouin Prince Feisel (Alec Guiness), who is a British ally in the fight against the Turks. What follows is not only an account of how Lawrence became a pivotal figure in the Arab revolt against the Turks, but of the nearly-Shakespearean rise and fall of his character.

    The director's cut runs a little over 3 1/2 hours, and every moment seems necessary. The pacing is tight - there's plenty of action and adventure interspersed with character development, plot exposition, and majestic visuals. Therefore, it's hard to believe that a theatrical version exists in which more than 30 minutes of material was excised. Indeed, most people who saw this film during the 1960s and 1970s weren't getting the entire picture (although Lean was involved in the trimming done to create the 3 1/4 hour print widely seen in U.S. theaters and the 3-hour version shown on television). Fortunately, in the late-80s, the original edition of Lawrence of Arabia was painstakingly restored (with the participation of David Lean and the surviving actors). The restoration was handled so expertly that, watching the new print, it's virtually impossible to see the shifts in visual acuity that often mark the inclusion of previously-eliminated scenes.

    The most compelling aspect of Lawrence of Arabia is the way in which it dissects the fluid, often-contradictory personality of the title character. Like many of the best classic "war" movies (such as Patton), this one uses the battles as a backdrop for a character study. The combat sequences in Lawrence of Arabia are perfunctory, with few of the details shown. This allows us to focus on the individual at the epicenter of the storm. When we first meet him, Lawrence is an oddball craving a mission in the desert (calling it "fun"), something that his fellows shun. After spending some time with the Arabs and being asked why he likes the desert, he has a simple answer: "It's clean". The movie explores Lawrence's friendship with Sherif Ali, and shows how the Arabs willingly adopt him as their leader, even though he has white skin. But Lawrence's psyche suffers a severe blow after his torture at the hands of the Turks. Initially, he is unwilling to return to the desert, but, when commanded to do so, he comes back driven by a newfound lust for killing and a desire for revenge. His final mission - the capture of Damascus - shows Lawrence's dark side.

    There is one visual oddity associated with the manner in which Lawrence of Arabia was filmed. Because it was not possible to shoot the night scenes at night, they were lensed during the day using light-damping filters. So, while it looks like night, the camels and horses cast noticeable shadows. Today, computers would be used to digitally erase these anomalies (then again, today, the filming could be done after dark), but their existence in Lawrence of Arabia adds a certain otherworldliness to those scenes in which the "night-shadows" appear.

    For David Lean, widely regarded as one of the masters of epic filmmaking, Lawrence of Arabia represented the most ambitious undertaking of a fruitful career. Restored to its full length in 1989, the version available today shows the story as Lean intended it to be seen - provided the viewer is able to see it projected, not compressed onto a TV screen. While it's true that Lawrence of Arabia still works on the small screen, it is robbed of one of the most important aspect of any motion picture spectacle - the awe factor. When that is present, this becomes an event - something that even the most restless viewer will become lost in.
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  2. Feb 2, 2012
    10
    Looking forward to June 2012, when 50th anniversary release of Lawrence will be available! I've also learned more about the actual history ofLooking forward to June 2012, when 50th anniversary release of Lawrence will be available! I've also learned more about the actual history of the real T.E. and WWI events which I think will make seeing the film even more interesting. There's a lot of info online: T. E. Lawrence Studies, T. E. Lawrence Society, and Clio Visualizing History (short video and tons of photos here) are good resources. It's almost scary how much Mr. O'Toole resembles the real T.E.! Expand
  3. Dan
    Jan 26, 2009
    10
    Cinematic perfection, no less.
  4. TinaW.
    Sep 4, 2008
    10
    This movie does not just deserve a mere 100, it deserves a 101! This is the most intelligent film that the Creator has ever put on this planet.
  5. Jun 27, 2012
    10
    A dark , perverse and disturbing movie. A masterpiece that brings us to think about what is moral and how far men can go. Required!
  6. Dec 17, 2010
    10
    One of the greatest movies of all time.. a true epic! Rarely do you find such a beautifully done movie. *highlight for me* Anthony QOne of the greatest movies of all time.. a true epic! Rarely do you find such a beautifully done movie. *highlight for me* Anthony Q performance, Alex G, and Omar Sharif but many others as well ... almost too many to list... Must see movie! Expand
  7. massimob
    Feb 22, 2009
    2
    Ok, some visually stunning scene, but it was the landscape, the story meant nothing the acting was stiff, maybe I'm an idiot, too long , Ok, some visually stunning scene, but it was the landscape, the story meant nothing the acting was stiff, maybe I'm an idiot, too long , too melodramatic, I can't imagine this to be a great film, don't believe the hype, try watching it more than once, you can't or you're deluding yourself. Expand

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