Peter O’Toole stars in his breakthrough role as T. E. Lawrence, a British officer who united the nomadic tribes of Arabia to defeat the occupying Turkish forces during World War I, whilst preventing the British Empire from taking over in their stead.
David Lean’s sweeping biopic is epic in every sense of the word. It is character study, war movie and birth of a nation all rolled into one near four hour package. Lean’s stunning visuals show human beings as insignificant insects on the face of one of the harshest environments on Earth, the savage beauty of which seduced the young idealistic Lawrence. The story shows him to be a little more complex that the usual heroic revolutionary figure, a typically hard-headed Brit who was too stubborn to consider defeat and really an outsider from both his Arab comrades and the British society from which he came. Becoming traumatised by both his military experiences and the fact that he became little more than a political pawn used by both sides he abandoned his cause and returned to England but not without becoming an almost mythic figure. O’Toole is incredible in his defining role creating a believable snapshot of history in the making, with all of the principle players realised in a non-judgemental and unpatronising way.
Its sheer length makes it something of an undertaking, but Lawrence Of Arabia is well worth the investment.