Thursday, June 7, 2007

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Directed by David Lean. Starring Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, and Omar Sharif.

Even today, this film stands as a benchmark for directorial ambition, with a grand historical sweep, huge crowd scenes, and spectacular desert vistas. Yet the greatness of Lean's film is that, upon reflection, it's a character study about a strange and singular man, British officer T.E. Lawrence (played by O'Toole). Lawrence wasn't a traditional dashing man of action (the film doesn't expound upon his homosexuality, but it's there) as much as an enigmatic figure who saw a situation that required a hero and mainly by force of will assumed the role. The film doesn't end with a battle scene, but with resignation and inevitability, as the world in which Lawrence thrived is replaced by politics and pragmatism. And yeah, the landscapes are pretty awesome too.

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