login

Movie Ratings, Family Movie Reviews & More!

Still shot from the movie: Lawrence of Arabia.

Lawrence of Arabia

T.E. Lawrence (played by Peter O'Toole) is a British intelligence officer during WW I assigned to find Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness) and gauge his willingness to stage an Arab revolt against the invading Turks. But the arrogant underling uses the mission to appointed himself as a British commander and engages in his own battles.

Overall Grade: B
Violence: C-
Sexual Content: B
Language: B
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Release Date: 20 Dec 1962
Run Time: 227
MPAA Rating: PG

0

In-Depth Review

Insolent, strangely awkward and clearly ill-suited for life as a soldier, T.E. Lawrence (played by Peter O’Toole) is an anomaly in an army that prizes manly feats. Arrogant, even for an imperialistic British conqueror, the blond, blue-eyed Lawrence at one point refers to himself as a god and says he can only be killed with a golden bullet. Such is the character at the center of the epic 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

Soon after his arrival in Cairo, the young British intelligence officer receives a commission from Mr. Dryden (Claude Rains), a politician and member of the Arab Bureau, to find Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness) and gauge his willingness to stage an Arab revolt against the invading Turks. But Lawrence, who has an extensive knowledge of the Bedouin, does more than track down the Prince. He proposes a surprise attack on the city of Aqaba and offers to lead the assault himself if Faisal provides 50 soldiers. Among those who accompany the self-appointed British commander are the reluctant Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) and two young tag-a-longs (Michel Ray, John Dimech) who profess more devotion to Lawrence than the Arab cause.

Against the better judgment of the native inhabitants, Lawrence leads his meager brigade across the sands of the Nefud Desert. Already confident of his own invincibility, he turns back before reaching the final watering hole to rescue a lost comrade (I.S. Johar). Once Gasim is restored to the ranks, Lawrence negotiates with Auda abu (Anthony Quinn), the powerful tribal leader of the Howeitat and convinces him to join the attack on the Turkish-held port city.

Illegitimate by birth, Lawrence appears driven by a need for recognition. But as his fame grows, thanks in part to the reports of war correspondent Jackson Bentley (Arthur Kennedy) who splashes stories of Lawrence’s escapades over the front pages of American newspapers, so does the young soldier’s relish for war. Hesitant and indecisive on one hand and driven by an almost insatiable lust for blood on the other, Lawrence is a puzzlement not only to his British superiors, whom he has long since ceased to obey, but also to the ragtag army he leads. His sexual leanings are also complicated. After being arrested, he is stroked and then flogged at the hands of a Turkish chief before being dumped in the street. The episode seems to drain the bravado from the egotistical leader. However with Damascus as the end goal, General Allenby (Jack Hawkins) must convince the now subdued and world-weary Lawrence to once again head up the rebels and storm the city.

The role of WWI war hero T.E. Lawrence offered Peter O’Toole his first major screen appearance and the film enjoyed success both critically and financially, receiving 10 Academy Award nominations and seven Oscars including Best Picture. While the movie’s violence is overall less graphic than war stories of today, a few bloody and disturbing portrayals are seen. In one, a man is executed on the spot to restore order. In another, a blood-covered character stares at the knife with which he has been stabbing his victims.

Lawrence of Arabia offers stark, windswept desert panoramas, uncluttered dialogue and colorful characters, not the least of which is the eccentric Lawrence. But despite this soldier’s unconventional presence on the war front, Lawrence remains a mystery throughout the film. As a figure, he demands attention, but it’s the kind given to an impending disaster.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: A character speeding on a motorcycle crashes and is killed. Numerous characters are shot, stabbed, slashed and killed. A camp is attacked during an air raid that involves shooting and explosions. Boys goad an animal and cause the rider to fall off. A man is left to die in the desert. Characters fight with riding sticks. A man executes his friend in order to maintain a tenuous alliance. He later confesses to having enjoyed the execution. Soldiers attack an army, shooting and stabbing men and horses. Pillaging and looting take place. A character dies in quicksand. Slaughtered victims are seen in a decimated village. Men attack a train, shooting and killing the passengers. A man with a burned face shoots another man. A character is hacked to death off screen. Characters blow up a train track. Men fire on others with a tank. A character, who is injured by an exploding detonator, is later shot rather than being left to be tortured by the enemy. A man is flogged (beating takes place off screen); later blood is shown oozing through his shirt. A dead character is covered with blood. A soldier is shown covered in blood and holding a knife. Numerous other bloody and injured victims are shown. Man is shot point blank and a pool of blood forms on the sand. Characters are shot at close range. A man is slapped. Characters bicker and fight while looting a conquered city.

Sexual Content: A man suggestively touches the chest of another man. A male character’s shirt is ripped off. Insinuations of homosexuality are included.

Language: The script contains infrequent mild profanities and terms of Deity.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Numerous characters smoke either cigarettes or cigars. Characters drink on several occasions.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Why do the rebels accept Lawrence more readily than the other British soldiers? Why does he connect more easily with them than his own superiors?

How historically correct is this depiction of T.E. Lawrence? Read about his life from his perspective in the book Seven Pillars of Wisdom.Learn more about his life here: http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/lawrencete.htm

Video alternatives

Alec Guinness, who plays Prince Faisal, also stars as Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episodes IV and V, as well as appearing in the war movie The Bridge On the River Kwai. And Franco-Arabic actor Omar Sharif in has a role in Hidalgo.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Lawrence of Arabia: 50th Anniversary Edition

Release Date: 13 November 2012

Lawrence of Arabia releases to home video on Blu-ray in a 50th Anniversary Edition.

Lawrence of Arabia: 50th Anniversary Edition includes the following:

- Secrets of Arabia: Picture-in-Graphic Track

- “Wind, Sand and Star: The Making of a Classic” (1970 version)

- Newsreel Footage of the New York Premiere

- Advertising Campaigns

- “Peter O’Toole Revisits Lawrence of Arabia” All-New Interview

- “The Making of Lawrence of Arabia” documentary

- “A Conversation with Steven Spielberg”

- “The Camels Are Cast”

- “In Search of Lawrence”

- “Romance of Arabia”

Also available: Lawrence of Arabia: 50th Anniversary Collector’s, which features:

- Exclusive Lawrence of Arabia Soundtrack CD

- Authentic 70mm Film Frame

- 88-Page Coffee Table Book

- Secrets of Arabia: Picture-in-Graphic Track

- Advertising Campaigns

- Never-Before-Released Deleted Scene with Introduction by Anne Coates

- “The Lure of the Desert: Martin Scorsese on Lawrence of Arabia” All-New Interview with Martin Scorsese

- “In Love with the Desert”

- “King Hussein Visits Lawrence of Arabia Scene”

- “Wind, Sand and Star” (original version, 1963)

- Archival Interviews with William Friedkin, Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg

- Trailers/TV Spots

- “Peter O’Toole Revisits Lawrence of Arabia” All-New Interview

- “The Making of Lawrence of Arabia” documentary

- “A Conversation with Steven Spielberg”

- “The Camels Are Cast”

- “In Search of Lawrence”

- “Wind, Sand and Star: The Making of a Classic” (1970 version)

- “Romance of Arabia”

- Newsreel Footage of the New York Premiere

Join the Conversation

About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

Harry Potter Advance Tickets

© One Voice Communications Ltd. | About Parent Previews | FAQ | Making the Grades | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact

© One Voice Communications Ltd. All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | FAQ | Contact Us | Syndicated Newspaper Column