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About This Item

Unique ID Code: 0000014859
Added by: DVD Reviewer
Added on: 4/3/2001 09:51
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Lawrence of Arabia (2 Disc Set) (UK)

9 / 10
7 votes cast
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From the creators of "The Bridge on the River Kwai"
Certificate: 12
Running Time: 227 mins
Retail Price: £24.99
Release Date:

Peter O`Toole plays adventurer T. E. Lawrence in this Oscar winning, lush portrayal of his life.

Shot almost entirely in the desert, under the direction of David Lean, this is a fully restored version of the original 70mm print.

The thirty-five year anniversary editions (in pan and scan and widescreen) feature a look behind the scenes of the making, and the original theatrical trailer.

Special Features:
Interactive Menus
Scene Access
Documentary: `The Making of Lawrence of Arabia`
`A Conversation with Steven Spielberg`
Four Publicity Featurettes
New York Premiere
The Marketing Campaigns
Original Theatrical Trailer
Maps - Journey with Lawrence set-top

DVD-ROM features
Archives of Arabia photos

Video Tracks:
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.20:1

Audio Tracks:
Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 English
Dolby Digital 5.1 English

Subtitle Tracks:

Directed By:
David Lean

Written By:

Claude Rains
Anthony Quayle
José Ferrer
Omar Sharif
Jack Hawkins
Anthony Quinn
Alec Guinness

Casting By:
Maude Spector

Soundtrack By:
Maurice Jarre

Director of Photography:
Freddie Young

Anne V. Coates

Costume Designer:
Phyllis Dalton

Production Designer:
John Box

Sam Spiegel
Robert A. Harris

Columbia Pictures

Your Opinions and Comments

5 / 10
people blacking up to look foreign oh dear this is no classic just a long winded bore
posted by Tony Ferrino on 16/4/2001 19:57
10 / 10
A Classic, No question. It`s dissapointing to notice many dropped frames during this Movie, Why it`s such an important one to make mistakes in the Transer process. Apart from that though it looks as great as ever...
posted by Richard73 on 5/12/2001 00:12
10 / 10
When David Lean's 1962 epic "Lawrence of Arabia" first appeared in cinemas, it was hailed as an evolutionary leap in large-scale filmmaking and storytelling. When it was released again in 1989 after an extensive restoration, it sparked new awareness in preserving our continually tenuous film heritage. When it migrated to the early home video industry, the letterboxing of director David Lean's astounding widescreen vistas provided a flashpoint against the standard practice of pan'n'scan of carefully composed film images. Finally, its early availability on laserdisc exalted the title as one befitting the best possible technological presentation.
Close to its fortieth anniversary, "Lawrence" finally made its digital debut. Columbia Tri-Star's superb two-disc DVD boasts an impressive amount of supplementary material including three newly produced documentaries, charting the film's production and famous restoration to a 'chat' with director Steven Spielberg about his impressions of the film and the film's impression on him. Interviews, DVD-ROM extras, and an excellent transfer and Dolby 5.1 soundtrack explain why "Lawrence" belongs in any DVD collector's library.

The film dramatizes T. E. Lawrence's unification of various Arab factions during World War I. The film starts as Lawrence (Peter O'Toole's in his first film), a lowly British office on assignment in Arabia, receives appointment as a "military observer" to Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness), who is waging war with the Turkish Empire. At first, Feisal responds to Lawrence's knowledge of the terrain and the culture, something that his superior Colonel Brighton (Anthony Quayle), also dispatched to counsel Feisal, does not possess. Distrust from Feisal's aide Ali Kharish (Omar Sharif, in his first western film) turns to admiration when Lawrence engineers an attack that weakens the Turkish hold on the waterfront city of Aqaba and paves the way for other Bedouin tribes to band together. Lawrence's larger than life vision of himself and his destiny transforms him into 'El Aurens' among the guerrilla warriors who serve with him. As the legend of El Aurens grows within Arabia and England, he slowly must come to grips with the destiny he has created for himself.

"Lawrence of Arabia" is another of those films that has been written about and discussed ever since its release. The film was successful as a 70mm Road Show in 1962 so a lot of people have seen the film as it was created, however, a lot more have only seen the appalling TV versions, and therefore wonder why the panorama of the film is talked about with such awe.

Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson (Michael Wilson finally gets a screen credit on the DVD - his name was not used as a hangover from the McCarthy which-hunts) adapted Lawrence's own writings, and Peter O'Toole's enigmatic debut performance, flaunt the convention of previous epic portrayals. The great gift of 'Lawrence' to world cinema was that the film was as much "an interior epic about the inner turmoil of a hero, as how his intervention stirred a nation to martial and political action", as Martin Scorsese said.

The two set DVD divides the film: Disc 1 contains the film, including Overture, up to the Intermission with no special features. Disc 2 contains the remainder of the film with Entr'Acte and Exit Music as well as containing the numerous special features. I've no problem with films with an intermission being spread over two discs, that way you get the best possible picture, and, you can go make a cup of coffee without pressing the pause button. Both discs have fully animated menus.

Any representation of 'Lawrence' on video begins and ends with how the visual landscapes, as painted by David Lean and cinematographer Freddie Young, transmit with reduced resolution. Considered one of the crown jewels of the Columbia film library, I can only expect that they will eventually repackage it as a 'Superbit' version of the film. Perhaps other DVD players or TVs may not be quite so kind but certainly on my 32" TV 'Lawrence' is spectacular and the 1:2.20 anamorphic video just explodes with detail. Benefiting from the restoration, the source elements are pristine with no speckles or blemishes. Deep black levels allow for balanced contrast at all times during the film. Detail loss is minimal, even when the narrative swings from night to blazing sunlight in an instant. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack sounds even better than the original theatrical presentation. The discrete audio creates a total sound field, helped by Maurice Jarre's stirring score. The sound effects mix adds some nice touches. Sound effects and dialogue integrate very well.

Of the three original featurettes' on the DVD the first is an hour-long examination of the film from practically every conceivable angle. Titled "The Making of 'Lawrence of Arabia'", the documentary manages to include just about all the creative personnel from the film to provide some perspective on the making of the film, as well as the restoration. Interviews from 1989 offer sound bites from David Lean and Peter O'Toole while new video interviews yield reminiscences from Omar Sharif, editor Anne V. Coates, art director John Box, film historian Adrian Turner, costume designer Phyllis Dalton and assistant director Roy Stevens. Interspersed with letterboxed clips and a generous helping of behind the scenes footage, the documentary discusses how the film came into being, the difficulties of capturing the desert on film, the slow erosion of the film's running time over the years and its eventual rebirth. Some of the insights are well known: how Albert Finney had won the part and then backed out or that they had to refrigerate the cameras so the film wouldn't melt and ruin the mechanisms, and some not so well known, such as, according to Sharif, Guinness adopted Sharif's actual speech patterns for his Feisal or that Alexander Korda had been approached by Lean to do a film biography of Lawrence. While covering almost thirty years between the filming and the restoration, the documentary is briskly paced for a collection of talking head shots.
Next is 'A Conversation with Steven Spielberg'. The eight-minute reminiscence crosscuts Spielberg's thoughts and recollections of the film with specific scene references and backstage footage of Lean. The third, newly produced featurette isn't so much a documentary as a narrated journey through the advertising materials for the film. Labelled 'Advertising Campaigns', the section tours the various posters, stills and souvenir books created to sell or market 'Lawrence' set to narration and music. The voice over is informative, explaining how different visual elements were employed during the film's release over the years and how changes were made or scrapped when it came to the film released internationally. Definitely a change from the stodgy, frame flipping of most DVDs.

A booklet within the two-disc box reprints the copy from the original 1962 souvenir program. Primarily focused on the historical Lawrence and how his life and writings translated to film, the program reads more like a history book than a throwaway programme.

Finally the disc's DVD-ROM features (for those who have a DVD-ROM drive). The disc offers historical photographs of Arabia, a "Journey with Lawrence: an Interactive Map of the Middle East".

Its taken me a couple of years to bother to write a review of "Lawrence of Arabia" - after all if you regard yourself as a film buff then you should have copy
posted by Tony Myhill on 4/1/2003 16:30
9 / 10
A film that requires little if no introduction. 7 academy awards, #5 on the AFI's 100 greats list, one of the highest earning films if adjusted for inflation, universally acclaimed by critics as THE epic masterpiece and one of those movies guaranteed to be shown over Christmas. "Lawrence of Arabia" had somewhat withered away over the years with repeated cuts. It was then restored in 1989 to its original (with some fine tuning) director's cut. Thankfully that is the version present on this DVD.

Video: Presented in its original 2.20:1, "Lawrence of Arabia" looks very good. So good in fact, in most scenes you'll fail to recognize it as a 40-year-old film. Defects are mostly absent, colours and sharpness are both excellent. There are a few problems and they tend to arise in the night scenes, where the colour from the blacks seems to have disappeared somewhat. Oh well, it's still a very good transfer. The film has been split onto two discs to handled compression better. The switch happens at the originally intended intermission sequence.

Audio: While not as impressive as the visual, the audio is too touched up and remastered. The noise from the VHS has been eradicated thankfully. Bass and surrounds are used rarely, but they do add power to Maurice Jarre's already powerful score.

Extras: Laurent Bouzereau's hour long "The Making of Lawrence of Arabia" is the centerpiece of the set. Culled from behind the scenes footage and interviews both new and old, it offers an in-depth, if not comprehensive (I would have preferred more technical stuff than the mostly anecdotal nature of the doc) look at the making of "Lawrence of Arabia". Sadly, the core team of Lean and O'Toole are only to be seen in interviews from 1989. I now it would be tough to get Lean to interview, but O'Toole seemed alive and kicking at this year's Oscars.

4 Featurettes:, Maan, Jordan: The Camels Are Cast, In Search of Lawrence, Romance of Arabia and Wind, Sand and Star: The Making of a Classic run various time lengths are were produced around the time of its original theatrical run. Though dated and the picture quality quite poor, they are quite interesting to watch. Unlike today's EPK stuff, they offer good information and historical facts.

"A Conversation with Steven Spielberg"- Spielberg waxes lyrical about the film for about 10 minutes. A great watch as Spielberg can truly talk about films. He explains how David Lean did a practical audio commentary for him when viewing the restored edition. It makes me wish some one recorded the damn thing!

An interactive map, trailers, profiles and DVD material round off the disc.

Overall: "Lawrence of Arabia" is the very definition of a classic epic. It may be 40 years old, it may be nearly 4 hours long, but never once was I bored. I was enthralled from the very start. For a near 4 hour film, it moves rather briskly and covers a massive journey through the eyes of one man. Lean's talent was filming personal tales on an epic level and "Lawrence of Arabia" was his pinnacle. O'Toole is magnificent, one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema. All the most amazing that it was his debut film role. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent. Freddie Young's cinematography is mesmerizing, making the desert come alive on screen. I sat in awe watching some of the shots, especially the "No Prisoners" scene. There have been many epics of cinema, but every one, "Lord of the Rings" included is just a wannabe to "Lawrence of Arabia", which has been done justice with this set.
posted by directorscutIMDb on 16/9/2003 19:47
9 / 10
Wow - what a film. What a LONG film. Its been on my "to be watched sometime" list for years.
However when it comes around on TV, I never seem to have a blank video long enough, and its always on at some inconvenient time. Given its length, this is hardly suprising. There is always something to get in the way. The children, the workday, eating, sleeping - whatever.

I saw it was now available on (two) DVD(s) and thought, "I need to see this just so I know what people are talking about". So, a few months ago, I bought the DVD. Then it was just a question of finding a suitable time to watch it. At just short of 4 hours, that is a bit of a task.
However all is not lost, the film has a cunning device as part of its original release. An intermission! What a concept!
This natty little device means I can watch 2 and a bit hours one night, and 1 and a lot the next night!
What will they think of next...

The Plot
T.E. Lawrence is a serving officer in the British Army in the first world war. Posted out to Arabia, he
has a problem with authority and doesn`t really fit into the established order.
He gets a new assignment out in the dessert talking to the Arab tribes. Using unconventional methods and with his respect for the indiginous tribes, and playing to their strengths, he proposes a new idea.

The results lead to some unexpected victories, and a near deification for Lawrence. On the way, we find out he is not an un-flawed hero. We find out we aren`t really sure who`s side he is really on, and he has his own agenda. He has lots of his own issues to solve, but he does deliver the results. Results that in the end turn out perhaps not as he`d hoped.

The film starts with a warning - the first few minutes feature an overture of the theme music, with no
accompanying picture. The warning is just as well as you`d probably sit there in disbelief at the black screen wondering what had gone wrong with your player. The same is repeated at the interlude and the end.

The Cast
Pretty much an all star cast for the time.
Peter O`Toole as Lawrence in his first major role. I guess they don`t come much more major than this.
His bright blue eyes shine out in the desert. I guess he must have been a pretty good camel rider after the many hours filiming this. Anyway, not much to fault in his performance.

Omah Sharif as Ali. Cast just right for this role.

Also included are Alec Guiness, Claude Rains, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quayle - a pretty good line up.

The Visuals/Audio
If anything, according to the extras, the picture is better than the original.
The restoration has enhanced the colours and I didn`t notice any issues with the video.

The sound is an excellent 5.1 mix, with some real care taken. The bullet shot from Lawrences gun when he has to execute one of his band to keep the peace, echoes around the room hauntingly.

The Extras
A big handful of extras on the second disc.
An hour long making of, which puts many current making of`s to shame. It has got comments from most of the original cast, including editors, director, cameramen and even costume designers. They go into full details about all aspects, and in some ways its better than a commentary. They talk about how certain effects were achieved, together with an insert of the segment. The struggle for casting, and how Omar Sharif nearly didn`t bother going for a screentest. Packed with details.

A "Journey With Lawrence" is a series of maps which show where he went on his campaigns, and help bring the whole lot into persepective, especially for those of us whose middle east geography
is not detailed. It has various annotations with details about specific locations. Very handy, considering how the boundaries have changed in the interveening time.

Steven Spielberg talks briefly about the film. How much he admires it and how it inspired him as a director. He was involved in the restoration project, and got to sit with David Lean who gave him a personal commentary while they watched the restored version. Don`t you wish he`d brought a tape recorder? He also estimates it would take $280 million to make in todays money, unless you used lots of digital effects to replace extras.

There are a selection of four featurettes done at the time in black & white, showing some of the background to the film making.

The New York premiere of Lawrence of Arabia is included in pathe news style (B&W), with voiceover.

A selection of advertising materials are included, but I think this is somewhat badly named. Its actually a history of the film with advertising material used to back it up. It shows how the original film was released, then cut for length, re-released, re-cut etc. Interesting.

Filmographies, trailers and DVD-ROM stuff completes the extras.

Well, Epic it is called, and Epic it is. I guess everyone should see this at least once.
posted by Julian Onions on 8/3/2004 14:30