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Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia(1962)

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Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – a completely restored version of David Lean’s Oscar-winning epic - is due to be re-released by Columbia Pictures later this fall. However, it’s been rumored that the studio has been downplaying this major event in deference to Miramax’s current release of their lavish remake of The Four Feathers. The reasoning apparently being that the ticket buying public won’t pay to see two historical epics during the same release season so Hollywood would prefer to cast its lot with the new blockbuster since there is more riding on its success. Lawrence of Arabia, however, has already secured it’s place in film history even though there are generations of new moviegoers who have never seen it. Based on T. E. Lawrence's autobiographical account of his experiences aiding the Arabian Bedouins against the Turks during World War I (it was published as The Seven Pillars of Wisdom), Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most complex character portraits ever created for the wide screen. Lawrence was a truly enigmatic figure and David Lean’s treatment of him reveals the Oxford-bred British officer to be part-messiah, part-mercenary and totally eccentric. Lean is helped tremendously in this respect by a galvanizing performance from Peter O’Toole as Lawrence, one that should have earned the actor an Oscar (He lost to Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird). And the film is magnificent in ways that few Hollywood biopics ever are. From its evocative score by Maurice Jarre to its breathtaking Super Panavision 70 mm cinematography, this is one movie that truly deserves to be seen on the big screen.

We don’t have the final details yet on this new restoration of Lawrence of Arabia but are curious as to whether it will be David Lean’s 222 minute cut. When the first first opened, that was the official running time but it was subsequently cut down to 187 minutes, and not restored to 217 minutes until 1989. Stay tuned for more information in the coming month.