Lawrence of Arabia
Collectors's Edition, Collector's Edition
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Newly restored - pristine audio & picture quality! Exclusive making of documentary, a conversation with Steven Spielberg, four original featurettes, New York Premiere, advertising campaigns.
There's no getting around a simple, basic truth: watching Lawrence of Arabia in any home-video format represents a compromise. There's no better way to appreciate this epic biographical adventure than to see it projected in 70 millimeter onto a huge theater screen. That caveat aside, David Lean's masterful "desert classic" is still enjoyable on the small screen, especially if viewed in widescreen format. (If your only option is to view a "pan & scan" version, it's best not to bother; this is a film for which the widescreen format is utterly mandatory.) Peter O'Toole gives a star-making performance as T.E. Lawrence, the eccentric British officer who united the desert tribes of Arabia against the Turks during World War I. Lean orchestrates sweeping battle sequences and breathtaking action, but the film is really about the adventures and trials that transform Lawrence into a legendary man of the desert. Lean traces this transformation on a vast canvas of awesome physicality; no other movie has captured the expanse of the desert with such scope and grandeur. Equally important is the psychology of Lawrence, who remains an enigma even as we grasp his identification with the desert. Perhaps the greatest triumph of this landmark film is that Lean has conveyed the romance, danger, and allure of the desert with such physical and emotional power. It's a film about a man who leads one life but is irresistibly drawn to another, where his greatness and mystery are allowed to flourish in equal measure. --Jeff Shannon
Stills from Lawrence of Arabia (click for larger image)
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Beyond Lawrence of Arabia
David Lean Collection
Audio CD Soundtrack
- Exclusive Making of Documentary
- A Conversation with Steven Spielberg
- Four Original Featurettes
- New York Premiere
- Talent Files
- Advertising Campaigns
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The new 400K process has created the most richly detailed and densely textured version of this truly epic film that this film lover has ever seen across 51 years and multiple incarnations: big screen, videotape, laser disc, DVD, and now Blu-ray. "Lawrence" was the centerpiece of my film class unit on epic/war films so I saw it twice a day on some occasions. Factoring in theatre, school and home viewings in 5 different formats, I estimate that I've seen "Lawrence" over 60 times; thus I can truly say that the new Columbia Blu-ray is among the best in the format and worthy of purchase in either the stand alone version or as part of the box set. If there were seven stars available for an Amazon rating or even ten, "Lawrence of Arabia" the Blu-ray would be worth every one.
Initially, I was impressed by the complex brilliance of Peter O'Toole's characterization ( for me, the best of the decade and of his career) and Robert Bolt's and Michael Wilson's fine compression of Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", rendered through Freddie Young's superlative cinematography and Maurice Jarre's haunting score, all unerringly supervised with consummate vigor, taste and grace by David Lean at the peak of his career. Lean, Young, Jarre and editor Anne Coates won well deserved Oscars, as did the film itself.
In recent viewings, I have also come to realize that "Lawrence" is a crash course in contemporary Middle Eastern politics, especially those of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Claude Rains's elegant chess player of a diplomat emerges as the prototype of the British and French imperialists who carved up the remains of the Ottoman Empire into the unsteady states afflicted by tribalism and factionalism that we see today.
In an all male cast anchored by Alec Guinness's supremely intelligent and smooth as silk Prince Feisal, Omar Sharif of the elegantly liquid eyes offers the possibility of parliamentary democracy and Anthony Quinn, Hollywood's all purpose ethnic brawler, is his opportunistic and tribal-centered adversary.
Anne Coates's razor sharp and always judicious editing is even more notable in this majestic Blu-ray iteration: from extinguished match to rising desert sun, from apparent mirage to black clad enforcer (Sharif) of desert water-based justice, from accelerating motorcyclist (at the beginning) to Lawrence viewed through a glass darkly (the dirty windshield of a jeep) at the end, the work of the hundreds of artists and artisans who made "Lawrence" is honored and immortalized by "Lawrence of Arabia" the Blu-ray. Behold it and wish that you could step into the screen; behold it and be amazed by filmmaking and video restoration at its finest.