Lawrence of Arabia Screen 6 articles

Lawrence of Arabia

1962

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  • It's simply another expensive mirage, dull, overlong, and coldly impersonal. Its objective is less to entertain or enlighten than to impress and intimidate. It is not as stupid as The Longest Day or as silly as Mutiny on the Bounty. Some of its acting and technical effects are interesting. But on the whole I find it hatefully calculating and condescending.

  • Lawrence is not, as has been made clear, a biography: inventions in Robert Bolt’s script have been severely criticised. But the fault is not that they are inventions but that they seem to belong to script conventions rather than taking us closer to the subject. This is part of the problem for a film which is trying to be everything at once: a film in which grandeur of conception is not up to grandeur of setting.

  • Roll the end credits at the intermission and I'm on board with the masterpiece crowd. Second half is a mess, alas, yanking Lawrence from self-deification to abject cowardice in accordance with the increasingly desperate needs of the script, psychological plausibility be damned.

  • If its spectacular, formal use of 70-millimeter has none of the sense of the new to be found in such superior big-screen blockbusters as Tati’s Playtime and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey... it still marks a major step forward for the ambitious personal epic compared to such preceding examples of the period as Cecil B. De Mille’s The Ten Commandments, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, Otto Preminger’s Exodus, Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings, and Lean’s own The Bridge on the River Kwai.

  • If there is a single sequence in the history of film that tells you what watching a movie on a big screen really means, and how that larger-than-life way of experiencing a movie can be so important, it's in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

  • The film’s understanding of T.E. Lawrence (or lack thereof) is encapsulated in its use of white. That we know Lawrence's fate at the outset of the film renders his figure on screen akin to that of a ghost. The white of his robes reinforces this, as his silhouette is rendered visible by the space it carves out around him—like a puncture, only the edges remain. Thus, in the way white reflects everything back to us, readings of Lawrence’s character find no fixed point.

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