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Drama - Historic

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)


Duration 3h 36m Rating (UK) PG
Source of story Real WWI events and the words of T.E.Lawrence
Director David Lean
Writers/Script Robert Bolt, Michael Wilson
Starring Peter O’Tool, Alec Guiness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, José Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Wolfit,

Elevator Pitch: A young British intelligence officer, based in Cairo, is dispatched to the desert to attempt to unite the Bedouin tribes in order to  distract the Turks who occupy much of the Middle-East. He is extremely successful, undertaking impossible treks across the desert, capturing Aqaba and blowing up trains. He generally acts against the authority of his superiors, and after an event in Daraa which results in him being assaulted by Turkish troops, he returns to Cairo, but is sent back with revenge in mind.

Content: No nudity or sex, indeed no women with speaking parts, one event of torture and a lot of gunfire with people riding about on camels and horses. Lawrence meets with the generals at various times and is involved in discussions which involve Prince Faisal. There are numerous set pieces of things happening in the desert including the principal event in the second act, the raid on Aqaba, and then in the last act the change in Lawrence’s character as massacres of the retreating Turks take place.

A View: This is an important film which won seven Oscars in 1962 and is No 88 on the IMDb Top Rated list. It was originally shown in cinemas in two parts with an interval and you can sort of see the break. The first half is terrific, right up to the attack on Aqaba, but once Lawrence has been tortured by the Turks in Daraa (An event which some historian believe never took place), the script seems to descend into melodrama, with Lawrence appearing to be demented, as it works up to a big finish. So it has failings, but nevertheless essential viewing for film buffs at the cost of a download, and I loved the camels.

Additional Info: What to include here? There is so much, but I liked the fact that King Hussein of Jordan, who had lent some of his forces to be extras, had fallen for a secretary working  for the film company, with the result that she became his second wife, and is mother of the current king.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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