Lawrence of Arabia
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LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION Winner of 7 Academy Awards® including Best Picture of 1962, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA stands as one of the most timeless and essential motion picture masterpieces. The greatest achievement of its legendary, Oscar®-winning director, David Lean (1962, Lawrence of Arabia: 1957 the Bridge on the River Kwai), the film stars Peter O’Toole — in his career-making performance — as T.E. Lawrence, the audacious World War I British army officer who heroically united rival Arab desert tribes and led them to war against the mighty Turkish Empire. Newly restored and re-mastered at 4K resolution, the massive scope and epic action of the Director’s Cut of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA can now be experienced like never before in this landmark 50th Anniversary Edition.
This vast movie is spread leisurely across two discs, with Maurice Jarre's overture standing in as intermission music for the first track of the second disc. But the clarity of the anamorphic widescreen picture and Dolby 5.1 soundtrack justify the decision not to cram the whole thing onto one side of a disc. The movie has never looked nor sounded better: the desert landscapes are incredibly detailed, with the tiny nomadic figures in the far distance clearly visible on the small screen; the remastered soundtrack, too, is a joy. Thanks are due to Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, who supervised (and financed) the restoration of the picture in 1989; on the second disc Spielberg chats about why David Lean is his favorite director and why Lawrence had such a profound influence on him both as a child and as a filmmaker (he says he rewatches the movie before starting any new project). Other features include an excellent and exhaustive "making of" documentary with contributions from surviving cast and crew (an avuncular Omar Sharif is particularly entertaining as he reminisces about meeting the hawk-like Lean for the first time), some contemporary featurettes designed to promote the movie, and a DVD-ROM facility. The extra features, especially the documentary, are good, but the breathtaking quality of both anamorphic picture and digital sound is what makes this DVD package a triumph. --Mark Walker
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This film captures so much it is hard to explain where to begin. Entertainment to its fullest. Not a love story until "Lawrence" admits that the killing, the capturing, the power he holds in his hands, "I love it," a psychological drama in his mind that continues to evolve until finally Lawrence abandons the Middle East resigns his post in the British Army deciding to have a far more quiet if not innocuous life in the lush British countryside.
This is filmmaking at its absolute best.
If it is impossible to know who and what T.E. Lawrence really was, this film deftly refuses to make everything clear.
That an English soldier immersed in 'Arabia' (the Hejaz, mostly) could successfully skirt 'blasphemous conceit' and still pull off a decisive role in the Arab uprising against the imperium that was then abbreviated as 'the Turk' is improbable at best. That this stunning wide-screen retelling of his story-cum-history could remain compelling forty years later at a time when few viewers could endure its plodding pace is a tribute to its genius.
'Nothing is written', Lawrence insists to Arab tribal leaders who believe everything is written. He seems to remake possibility by sheer force of eerie will. Lawrence comes across as the quintessential English Impatient, seeing more than Arab realists and out-of-touch colonialists could imagine.
In the end, the Turk did go home and Arabia was set free to be re-enslaved by men of a different accent and set of blood loyalties.
Who knows who really won the Levant campaign? So many claimed to have done so. Sixty years later, it still isn't clear.
But the consideration of that question is more entertainingly carried out with the stunning imagery of this film on one's shelf. Its widescreen sequences of men on camels in almost borderless desert stretches the imagination.
The very strangeness of Lawrence's odyssey is painted the better for the novelty of what writers, directors, and camera operators managed to pull off in a year when the world lurched towards nuclear confrontation and the legacy of one very odd Englishmen had still not been settled.
See the movie. Download the soundtrack. Make L of A one of your legacy films.
For those who never saw the original theater release 50 years ago, and missed an experience of a lifetime, this DVD is a must have.