This was a career maker for Peter O'Toole. Of course this was back in the day when men were men, and women got no speaking parts. Total weiner-fest. Alec Guinness made me uncomfortable with a little brownface. Not that Hollywood has learned its lesson about casting white people as foreigners. My biggest problem with the film has to do with the use of the day for night filter. It just looks wrong!
Whether it was put on screen accurately or not accurately, what Thomas Edward Lawrence did, at the age of only 26, is outstanding. That's one part. The other: the aesthetic beauty of the movie & the collection of supremely performing cast. Altough >3,5 hrs never boring; entertainment at highest level! Masterpiece.
Perfect all the way through. Every single moment is unforgettable, primed with the uttermost cinematic beauty. I dare say you could show a still of any moment in here to anyone who has willingly seen it and one would instantly identify it as "Lawrence of Arabia". Truly an essential masterpiece of cinema for the ages.
An epic is characterized by its universality, by its juxtaposition of small details and great events, of the individual and the collective. In Lawrence of Arabia, man is reduced to such a detail in the middle of the infinite desert, and lays its touch on the skin and soul of its main star. A shame the minimalistic journey of the first half becomes a war movie in the second. Truly, Lawrence belongs to the desert.
The film is beautifully shot, begging the question: "how did they do it?". However I think that it is largely overrated. The film reaches a climax, peaks, and then deflates once again...over and over throughout, making the picture far too long. The character arc of Lawrence is astounding, but like the desert quickly gets covered up by distracting layers. More time is spent traveling than getting anywhere.
The only element that today's epics share in common with Lawrence of Arabia is in the sensory, not in emotion or intelligence. As beautiful as LOA is, it's equally rich in complexity and depth. David Lean understood that cinema is a balance and made sure to delivery on every level, not just the visuals. They will never make a film like this again, not in scale or with an ending as devastating and challenging as this.
Who doesn't love this movie? It is an achievement of epic proportions. Every frame is breathtaking, and the story is magnificent. If I had to nitpick here, and there, I'd say I honestly thought the very ending was a little weak, considering all what the audience has been going through for the past three hours. It could have been much more powerful, in my opinion.