Contents (To find everything on site) | Biography | Links | Films | Theatre | Awards | Quotes
| " Blessings" |Entry | Remembered | Ealing Studios | Smiley | The Lean Films |

David Lean's splendid biography of the enigmatic T.E. Lawrence paints a complex portrait of the desert-loving Englishman who united Arab tribes in battle against the Ottoman Turks during WWI. At the center of Lean's superbly sun-drenched, 70mm canvas is Peter O'Toole's eccentric but magnificent portrayal of the erudite, Oxford-educated lieutenant, who wangles an assignment as an observer with Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness), the leader of the Arab revolt against the Turks. Feisal is resigned to allowing his tribal army to become just another branch of the British forces, but the messianic Lawrence, determined to prevent the Arabs from falling under British colonial domination, undertakes a military miracle. He, Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif)--whom Lean introduces as a tiny dot on the desert horizon that steadily enlarges, in one of the film's most striking scenes--and 50 men traverse the "uncrossable" Nefud Desert; join forces with their traditional tribal enemies, led by Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn); and rout the Turks at the strategic port city of Aqaba. Given the go-ahead by Gen. Allenby (Jack Hawkins), worshiped by the Arabs he has brought together, and cloaked in their flowing white robes, "El Aurens" leads the Arabs in a brutal guerrilla war that is as much about establishing Arab sovereignty as it is about defeating the Turks. His thrilling exploits are glorified by the Lowell Thomas-like American journalist Jackson Bentley (Arthur Kennedy). In time, however, Lawrence's legions dwindle, he begins to revel sadistically in violence, his grand attempt at overseeing the formation of a united Arab Council in Damascus collapses, and he returns to Britain exhausted. Lean's film is best appreciated on the big screen, and in 1989 a carefully restored version of LAWRENCE was released that reinstated 20 minutes cut for the original roadshow release and another 15 minutes trimmed when it was rereleased in 1970. Moreover, Lean and his original editor, Anne V. Coates, were finally given the chance to do a "fine cut" on the film, now 216 memorable minutes long.

From The TV Guide Entertainment Data Base

Lawrence remains with Feisal after Brighton and Sherif Ali leave the tent, and as they speak about the Arab destiny in the face of Western warfare, the masts of the tent creak as the wind blows:

Feisal: Colonel Brighton means to put my men under European officers, does he not?
Lawrence: In effect my lord, yes.
Feisal: And I must do it because the Turks have European guns. But I fear to do it. Upon my soul I do. The English have a great hunger for desolate places. I fear they hunger for Arabia.
Lawrence: Then you must deny it to them.
Feisal: You are an Englishman. Are you not loyal to England?
Lawrence: To England, and to other things.
Feisal: To England and Arabia both? And is that possible? (He walks right up close and looks into Lawrence's eyes.) I think you are another of these desert-loving English...No Arab loves the desert. Without water and green trees, there is nothing in the desert. No man needs nothing. Or is it that you think we are something you can play with because we are a little people? A silly people, greedy, barbarous, and cruel?...To be great again, it seems we need the English or...
Lawrence: ...or?...
Feisal: ...what no man can provide, Mr. Lawrence. We need a miracle!

Feisel speaks from experience: Click here to listen

Laurence of Arabia DVD at Amazon

Back to top