Shockingly, at Sony’s recent unveiling of its 4K restoration (from the original 65mm negative) of “Lawrence of Arabia,” I was not the only person who raised their hand to admit never having seen the film. I was also surprised to learn that the film is not just long, it’s indeed epic. After the first three-and-a-half hours I did not fall asleep but was instead riveted by the Oscar-winning mise-en-scene, cinematography, art direction, score, editing, and sound. (The 1962 movie took home seven Oscars including best picture.)
Peter OToole’s performance as eccentric T.E. Lawrence did not win an Oscar (he lost to Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockinbird”) . As Roger Ebert puts it: “T.E. Lawrence must be the strangest hero ever to stand at the center of an epic.”
On October 4, “Lawrence of Arabia” will celebrate fifty years with this Sony Pictures’ Colorworks restoration by playing at over six hundred theaters throughout the country. Special matinee screenings will include an introduction from star Omar Sharif, newsreel footage from the New York premiere and footage of King Hussein meeting director David Lean, star O’Toole and producer Sam Spiegel on the set. Martin Scorsese will also comment on the themes of the film and their influence on cinema.
AFI includes “Lawrence of Arabia” at No. 7 on their list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. Based on T.E. Lawrence’s memoirs, the film stars O’Toole as a young British officer who is tasked to Arab Prince Feisal’s camp during WWI. Lawrence ends up leading the Prince and his men in their revolt against the Turks through a series of audacious tactical maneuvers, resulting in god-like status among his newfound Arab brothers.
Tickets for the anniversary screenings are available through FathomEvents. The film will also be available in a fully-restored Blu-ray with UltraViolet on November 13.