Originally released at 222 minutes. Shortly after premiere which took place in London in December 1962, 20 minutes were deleted from the film. The film was re-released in 1971 when a further 15 minutes were deleted. In 1989 the restored version was released at 216 minutes.
There are (or were) three versions, the original release version, the cut version that replaced the original release several months into its initial run, and the current "restored" version. (The additional cuts in 1971 are not enumerated here.) Although the restored version is close to the original, there are several differences. The whole beginning was heavily cut in version 2. Cuts included the shot of goggles on the tree, Brighton's "remarkable man" line to the priest, early shots of the drafting room scene, the whole officer's mess sequence where he's called a clown and upsets water on someone, and some dialogue between the General and Dryden. All of these scenes are back in version 3, with one small exception. When Lawrence leaves his drafting table to see the general, the shot originally continued. One of his companions picks up the note that Lawrence left and says, "He has, too." "Has what?," says the other. "Gone to see the General." In version 3 you can still see the fellow reaching for the note at the end of the shot. Some dialogue between Lawrence and Feisal just before Lawrence starts across the desert was cut in version 2 and has been restored in version 3. In the original, when Abu Tai says, at the water hole, "Come and visit me," there was a direct cut to a long pan in his tent that starts with the face of a small girl. In version 2 there was, unaccountably, a new shot added, that tracks forward over the rocks of a cliff to reveal Tai's tent village below. This shot had music that was not in the original print, and was the only thing ADDED to the short version. The next shot was the same pan as the original, only shortened, starting after the face of the small girl. (The new shot adds nothing to the continuity and why it was added is a mystery.) In version 3, both the shot of the tent village from the cliff and the full tent pan with the girl's face are used. In addition, there several shots of Lawrence's men arriving at Tai's tent village that were not in version 1 or 2, which is the only apparent a
In accordance with a 1995 decision by the Writers Guild of America to give Michael Wilson a co-writing credit (based on documentary evidence that he had been a major contributor to the script), newer copies of "Lawrence of Arabia" such as the DVD and the prints made for the 40th anniversary re-release feature the altered credit: "Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson" (previously, only Bolt's name was listed).
The original 2-disc Limited Edition and later 1-disc editions featured incorrect color timing and numerous sound mix glitches. The "SuperBit" edition released in 2003 features different (and correct) color timing, much less digital artifacting, more image on the bottom portion, the fixed soundtrack, and a re-created opening title sequence due to the original optical being overly blurry. Ironically, Robert Harris, who helmed this SuperBit Edition remaster, is credited as "Robert Harns."
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