Lawrence of Arabia Background

Lawrence of Arabia Background

Lawrence of Arabia is an epic dramatic movie released in 1962, and directed by revered British director Sir David Lean (of course, he wasn't a "Sir" at the time of filming - that honor was not bestowed upon him until decades later after he had added A Passage to India to his resume.) The movie stars Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence and co-stars Alec Guinness and Omar Sharif. The film is a whopping two-hundred-and-twenty-seven minutes long and is said to be the longest film without any dialogue at all spoken by a woman.

The film documents the story of T.E. Lawrence, one of the most celebrated military heroes in British history. In 1935 he was killed in a motorcycle accident, and at his memorial service, held at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, a reporter tries to gain insight into the man behind the hero's mask by talking to the people who knew him. This proves largely fruitless as Lawrence was as much of an enigma to his friends as he was to strangers. The movie tells the story of Lawrence's epic journey through the desert and his unlikely victory against Arab soldiers. David Lean shot the film with all of the action going from left to right, to emphasize that the film is a journey. This was just one of the innovations that Lean introduced in the making of this film; to film Omar Sharif's entrance through a mirage, camera director Freddy Young used a special 482mm lens from Panavision. It was created specifically for this shot and has never been used since. It is still owned by Panavision and is known as "The David Lean Lens".

Several rather unorthodox techniques were also employed to get the best performance out of the cast. For example, wardrobe mistress Phyllis Dalton was asked to make O'Toole's army costume too small so that it was uncomfortable and would enable him to portray Lawrence's own discomfort with his military uniform. He was also almost thrown from his camel after a pellet exploded nearby.

The film received ten Oscar nominations and would have received eleven but for the fact that the nomination committee forgot to submit Phyllis Dalton's name to the Academy. In 1989 the film was reconstructed but much of the dialogue was missing. To remedy this the surviving actors re-recorded their dialogue and it was dubbed over the original from over twenty years previously.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.