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Arabia at its best!
Jun 08, 2006 08:17 PM 1383 Views

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There are a couple of movies that can be categorized as must-sees, irrespective of genres. The Godfather, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, The Sound of Music, Ben-Hur are some of them, timeless classics that have created magic on celluloid. Lawrence of Arabia isnt far behind on the list of all-time greats; it truly is a remarkable piece of film- making, and wherever pure cinema is held in awe, it sure is worthy of mention.


Lawrence of Arabia or T.E Lawrence was a flamboyant figure who was synonymous with the Middle East during the First World War. Though positioned as a lieutenant of the British Army in North Africa assigned with the task of colouring maps, he struck glory when he was transferred as an observer with Prince Feisal, a leader of an Arab tribal army. Lawrence achieved the impossible when he managed to unite different warring Arab tribes into one single army faced with the objective of ousting the Turks from Arabia. He played an integral part in bringing about the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, and remained until 1922, when, feeling that the Arabs had been betrayed in the Palestine Question, he left Arabia in a state of emotional turmoil. Lawrence was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1935, and is to date, considered to be a scholar extraordinaire and an undisputed authority on Arabia.


The movie, true to the very last word, is an exact biography revolving around Lawrence (Peter O' Toole). Initially portrayed as a maladjusted and discontent lieutenant, he finds his true desire aiding the Arabs into war against the Turks. Even after the War , he decides to stay and help out Prince Feisal manage his newly captured provinces. His endeavours are chronicled by the journalist Jack Bentley.


Lawrence of Arabia doesnt fail to impress: From the very first Overture scene you know that what you are about to witness is an epic. An all-star cast including Peter O' Toole, Anthony Quinn, Alec Guiness, Jack Hawkins and even the noteworthy Omar Sharif is by itself a credential. Something that I found peculiar was that there isnt even a single female character in the entire cast. Director David Lean spares no pains in converting each frame into a work of perfection, and he truly surpasses himself by managing to keep the viewer glued to the screen with his fast-paced narration. It is only at the end of the movie you get to realise that you ve been watching for almost four hours!


Robert Bolt deserves mention for coming out with a script suitable for an epic, and the musical score is equally impressive. But its the cinematography that steals all the applause: to create breathtaking and stunning shots out of something as dull, drab and lifeless as a desert is without doubt the handiwork of a professional. The camera brings out the true grandeur of the desert; it almost creates an ambience of being in the desert yourself. The scene in which Lawrence sets out alone across the desert in search of one of his lost aides is nothing short of....i dunno, its so hard to describe something so awe-inspiring: language founders in those deserts.


It comes as no wonder that Lawrence of Arabia swept up seven Oscars; for Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Music, Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Direction and of course, Best Cinematography.After watching this, dont feel surprised if you find yourself asking this question: why dont they make movies like this anymore?


Thumbs up all the way!


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