copyright © Jedo Dre 2011
It took me about five minutes of screen time to realize that was going to like this movie. Key behind that realisation is the introduction of the main character of the film. Peter O'Toole plays an intelligent and cheeky Thomas Lawrence "Lawrence of Arabia" with an exquisitely charming arrogance.
Lawrence of Arabia is a phenomenal looking film. The scenes contract and grow. A small speckle of a man on horizon with quiet music in the background grows into a riding warrior with a roar of the main theme. It is amazing in how many different ways the film manages to show the majestic desert. And although having a large quantity of actors is not a merit, it sure does make an impression when a few hundred of them charge on horseback. This film can fill a person with wanderlust.
Music plays a very important part in the presentation of the visuals and the makers were clearly quite proud of the orchestral compositions. The theme of Lawrence of Arabia is instantly recognizable. Unfortunately, the main hook of the theme does overstay its welcome as it comes back at the slightest opportunity, albeit in different form.
If there is one word for this film it is "epic". it is so in every way. In way of story, the Arab uprising during World War I was of importance to its outcome and subsequent history. In way of visuals, the large battles and the massive desert capture the mind. In way of characters, flamboyant historical leaders. This film is so epic it is one of those movies that has an overture,and an intermission with an entr'acte.
A cool thing about Lawrence of Arabia is how relevant it still is. "So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe," he said, "so long will they be a little people, a silly people". No offense to the Arab readers, but those who know something about the current state of affairs know how much this still applies. The general themes in the film are timeless, much like the deserts.
So is it perfect? No, it has a number of unnatural moments in its story. There is a character in this film who is shown to be a cold and unpleasant person, but over a fairly short period of time he is suddenly transformed into a good guy and the protagonist goes from hating him to being friendly. The way Lawrence persuades another hostile characters to join him later on also still puzzles me.
This film thoroughly rubs the spirit of Thomas Lawrence. The man is portrayed as half god, almost always right and successful. "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away" is actually a plot point in this movie. The main character does get humbled, but only for a short time. I understand that the character thinks much of himself but the movie clearly agrees with him.
This handling of character is not necessarily a flaw in itself but it adds to the aforementioned unnatural feel this movie sometimes has. Also, as you may imagine, the God comparison may be somewhat offensive to religious people. There is a central theme in this movie in which the Muslims keep indicating that "it was written" referring to predestination belief that appears in both Muslim and Christian faiths, but Lawrence keeps indicating and proving through his acts that nothing is written for him, and convincing those around him it seems. Lawrence indirectly compares himself to Moses and his servants tell him "it shall be so, Lord" as he wears white robes. Meanwhile, one of the Arab chieftains is shown to be greedy and the Arabs are shown to be barbaric.
In short, this film feels arrogant, just like its main character. Nevertheless, Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most interesting films of all time. It is pretty and smart and makes you wonder about it after you are done watching it.
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