Title: Lawrence of Arabia
Language: English, Arabic, Turkish
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Biography
Director: David Lean
A first-time viewing of this David Lean’s internationally renowned masterpiece in a KVIFF grand-screening this year, which is an unforgettable 222 minutes of revelry for a film aficionado. Technically speaking, this epic film is flawless, who would not be appalled and intoxicated by the picturesque shots of the desert, and amazed by the strenuous effort from the monolith teamwork to produce such a magnificent celluloid-biography.
Peter O’Toole has set such insurmountable brio for his fame-entry performance as T.E. Lawrence, a contentious figure as the messiah of the Arabic country, therefore, a condescending stance also cannot be sidestepped whenever dealing with this race-sensitive issues, an ad hoc situation for this film, a British hero among Arabian peoples is more or less difficult to pander to both parts, besides the sizable veneration towards the original book, Lean has an artistic etiquette to take advantage of phenomenal visual thrusts to proffer a universally soul-stirring magnetism, to which everyone could be warmed regardless of age, cultural background and race.
The matinee idol-studded supporting group also emits indestructible prowess to cement the compelling story, my only dissent is Alec Guinness should have topped Omar Sharif (who was co-nominated with O’Toole in the Oscar race) for the honor, although Omar’s rendition is a very satisfying one. Quinn, Hawkins, Quayle, Rains and Kennedy, such a sumptuous lineup, even José Ferrer’s Turkish warlord cameo is inexplicable charming and deadly dangerous.
The gay undertones are flowing in a minute and downbeat passage but one could sense the utterly woman-free idiosyncrasy might insinuate much more than just being set against a military and Arabic milieu.
If one must pick the underbelly, in my opinion the action sequences might not be Lean’s strongest suit, e.g. the war battle slaughter is quite merciful and riotous in an artificial angle, albeit there were authentic and elephantine menfolks being deployed, but in an era without the now-overabundant CGI technology, this 7 Oscar-winning film (including BEST PICTURE and BEST DIRECTOR) is not only the hallmark of Lean’s career (my previous Lean’s work is RYAN’S DAUGHTER 1970), but the entire golden Hollywood as well.