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4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2009
I went to my son's house for Easter and instead of sitting down to watch the latest action flick (His great joke is treating me to films that I would never watch on my own.), I discovered to my great pleasure that the evening's entertainment was "Lawrence of Arabia." As my son set up the DVD, he said, "Don't you remember? You took us to see it when we were kids." I had forgotten.

When I got home, I pulled out my own two-disc set of the Limited Edition, noting the incredibly clear transfer that looks like HD when I played it on my computer. I then watched the extras. Whereas so many "the making of" documentaries nowadays are self-serving and otherwise forgettable, the Interview with David Lean, Omar Sherif, and the behind-the-scenes crew is truly enlightening, as are the comments of Steven Spielberg.

Enough cannot be said about the subtleties of Peter O'Toole's nuanced performance of the troubled protagonist (and I am still cross about Hollywood's failure to recognize him in any other way than a "Lifetime Achievement Award"--Hollywood's booby prize). In perusing the other reviews on this website, I have noted proper accolades for the performances of Omar Sharif, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, and Claude Raines (always brilliant), but I noticed a failure to appreciate the performance of Anthony Quayle, whose portrayal of the adjutant moves from stiff-upper-lipped-Empire-right-or-wrong--at first resenting Lawrence whom he clearly considers an eccentric loose cannon--to anguished disgust at the political manipulations of Allenby (Hawkins), Dryden (Raines), and Faisal (Guinness), who shamelessly discard Lawrence as an embarrassment after they not only have used him but also have used him up to achieve their political ends. Quayle's sterling performance complements and completes this phenomenal ensemble cast.

Having seen the film several times since 1963, and realizing that my young adult self did not understand the full implications of the story, which I have since come to appreciate, I can well imagine that it was David Lean's sweeping panoramas, Maurice Jarre's haunting musical score which evokes the emptiness of the desert, and the spectacle of the snorting camels, the prancing Arabian horses, and the snappy British military bands that imprinted "Lawrence of Arabia" indelibly into the childhood memories of my son, who was seven years old at the time. Certainly, a tribute to the magic of David Lean's filmmaking.
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on 24 December 2002
From the success of Bridge over the river Kwai, David Lean settled on the story of Colonel T.E Lawrence or Ned to his family and friends, with which to once again captivate and entrance his cinematic public. Perhaps Mr Lean did not anticipate the size of the task that awaited him as if had it might have put him off.
It was a risk for Mr Lean and his backers, after all this was a story that was surrounded in mystery, controversy and conflicting testimony, with the enigmatic Lawrence at its centre. The times had moved on and audiences were demanding big names and new cinema, David Lean had the big names(Alec Guiness, Jack Hawkins & Anthony Quinn) but the two central characters (Lawrence and Ali) were played by two relatively unkown actors, Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, a big gamble for any director with such a fantastic story to tell.

For the British in the first half of the century, the story of T.E Lawrence was a romanticised narrative, far departed from the hellish western front. He became much more than an intelligence officer in the British Army, he himself knew the power of propoganda and so did his political and military masters, not to mention the editors of papers back in England and the USA, for which Lawrence was a much needed "breath of fresh air" for the depreseive trench warfare reading of the first world war.
David Lean's film while not strictly historicaly accurate (depending upon which version of Lawrence's life you believe) is a master piece of cinema. The cinematography is ground breaking and the scale of production magnificent. This means that it feels "real" for the audience. No computer graphics here, so when you see the hundreds of arabs charging into Aqaba with sabres raised, those ARE real actors all charging hell for leather into a town (constructed entirely by Lean's team, another fantastic acheivment). This size of staging has to be admired and works beautifully in the film.
Perhaps the fascinating thing about Lean's film is that it does paint a balanced picture of Lawrence. Despite the conflicting testimony of his life and actions by many biographers and Lawrence himself, Lean rightly decided to air those darker sides of Lawrence's war time life along side his projected golden media image. This is summed up beautifully at the start of the film when a British hack asks an American journalist (who had met Lawrence during the Arabian campaign) for a few words after the remberence service for Lawrence at St Pauls. The American journalist gives only complimentary rhetoric (on the record) and then when the hack moves off delivers a cutting slur against Lawrence's character. Perhaps this is why the film works so well, it does not paint Lawrence as a "superman" who is above all vices and cleaner than clean, something American cinema did so well and continues too. Lean presents Lawrence as a great man, nevertheless a man with demons who had a darker side, it shows how he was used to achieve those ends decided by his superiors as much as he used others to get what he wanted.
Peter O'Toole is a genius in the role, the cast as a whole all perform so well that you forget that they are actors and they become the characters they potray, this is surely what every actor and director hope to achieve but rarely do they. Lean and Co have created more than a film, its a ripping yarn, a master class in acting, directing, production, editing and casting. This reviewer recommends Lawrence Of Arabia with no reserevations.
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on 22 July 2015
yes i know what your thinking , i already own this film on DVD etc but should i buy it again on Blu-ray ?, yes you should. Its a film i love and know a bit too well ,but even i was blown away by how good this looks , its hard not to use the word sumptuous ,ok i just did, but the sound the colour the sharpness is stunning !

Things ive noticed from one viewing ,1. there are two flys on the light in the 'map room' scene .
2. Peter oToole has a large plaster on his finger in the 'train derailment' scene
3. the scene after Lawrence has been shot in the arm and sat on the Rolls Royce , you can see a tiny spot
blood on the wheel arch were he was sat, nice detail.
4. i know this sounds weird but you can see the dust and snow , its that clear , and of course the desert
looks amazing ,
5,. even the interiors look great , the moziac tiles on the walls of the HQ etc and did you know theres a
huge B/W painting/photograph in the officers mess opposite the bar i know i didn't.

theres lots more but ill let you find them , This film was made to be watched on a big screen and Blu-ray ,if you cant see it projected at a cinema, this is as good as good gets ,buy it and thank me later.
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on 13 June 2001
I can never understand why people buyy certain titles on DVD when video is adequate. Exercise videos spring to mind! But the masterpiece that is Lawrence of Arabia is one of those films that really benefits from digital technology. Painstakingly restored, the stunning scenery, sensitive soundtrack and sheer self-indulgence of the director overwhelm the viewer into thinking that 4 hours is not long enough! It takes over 2 minutes for Omar Sharif to ride up on his camel, during which time only two or three words are spoken and the camera hardly moves. If this kind of film were made today it would be slashed into a 90 minute action movie. Buy it. It will never be matched.
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on 21 December 2006
In some films the landscape is one of the stars. This is the landscape film par excellence. You see, feel, taste and smell the desert as a result of David Lean's stunning desert photography. And that isn't all. This film is an 'embarrassment of riches'. It has an amazingly complex but confident and charismatic central performance from Peter O'Toole as Lawrence and superb supporting performances from Omar Sharif, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, Claude Rains, Anthony Quayle - to name only some of them. That great Shakespearian actor of the 1940s, Sir Donald Wolfit, has a rare big film cameo appearance as irascible General Murray. Its one of his few performances preserved on film. No account of the riches of this film would be complete without saluting the marvellous symphonic score by Maurice Jarre and the wonderfully literate, thought provoking script by Robert Bolt. 'Lawrence of Arabia' is truly one of the handful of enduringly great films and this DVD allows you to enjoy time and again not only the diamond sharp desert photography of the movie itself but also the nostalgia of a well made 'Making of' documentary.
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on 30 May 2006
I realise the complaint the other reviewer has about the changeover being 10 minutes before the intermission. But once you get used to it, the sheer quality more than makes up for it.

Superbit DVDs are like a bridge between normal DVD and the next generation HD technology, in that the disk space is put over to superior picture and sound quality. Lawrence of Arabia was remastered and a high definition scan was taken from the original print. It's then the case of how much info the DVD can store which dictates how good the picture is going to be. So as there's no extras to be concerned with, that space is taken up with better resolution and DTS sound.

If, like me, you can watch the film on a large screen, it really is amazing. And with the DTS making the surround sound speakers work much better than Dolby, you really feel like you're in the desert with Lawrence. It's probably the greatest epic ever made, in that it's vision and it's ambition feels unattainable, yet here it is, Lawrence of Arabia, in all it's glory.
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on 7 January 2012
The reviews for all 3 versions are amalgamated, which is confusing. Generally there is only one version of a DVD but in this case there is (1) a single-disc version (film only), (2) a 2-disc 'Superbit' version (film only) and (3) a 2-disc version (film + additional features). Not clear if the one with the additional features is the same quality as the single disc fuzzy version or better - or possibly even the same as the Superbit one. The Amazon description for all 3, including the single disc version, describes the film as being 'spread leisurely across 2 discs' and many of the reviews mention the suboptimal disc change time with regard to the intermission.
Having recently been in Jordan, including Wadi Rum where a lot of the film was shot, I wanted to see this (especially having missed it on TV at Christmas) and was pleased to read about the superior image quality. £17 seemed a lot for an old (albeit remastered) film, but I thought that was due to the length of the film etc. Was disappointed to discover that it was only 1 single-sided disc and the picture quality, having zapped through the scenes, was reminiscent of a VHS tape!
Have now ordered the 'Superbit' version (used) and will wait for it to arrive before watching this film and am returning the original purchase on the basis that it was not as described. To save anyone pointing it out, I know that in the small print under 'number of discs' it says '1' but these details are often wrong and the overall impression from the web site is that all versions have the high quality picture. Could potentially have been a double-sided dual-layer disc, though I only have 2 double-sided DVDs - Lethal Weapon 4 and something else from years ago.
Have given THIS SPECIFIC DISC with the yellow/orange cover (as opposed to the film, which I expect to be good) 2 stars due to the inadequate technical quality. Would presumably look ok on a small TV but not on a 42" plasma screen or even a 32" CRT. It would be preferable for reviews about a film to be separate from the media, especially when there are different versions.
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VINE VOICEon 4 June 2004
This is presented in the way that the original cinema-goers would have seen it. The music starts with a blank screen, like an overture before the curtain goes up (must fit some red velvet and gold braid to my TV!) and the original intermission marks the end of disc 1.
O'Toole and Sharif are devastatingly handsome, but even they struggle against the scene-stealing desert. If only IMAX existed when David Lean was making this masterpiece.
My only disappointment was the sound quality; the music especially sounded compressed and congested between the loudspeakers.
So that's 5 stars for the vision and 3 stars for the sound, averaging out at 4 overall.
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on 26 October 2003
The superbit collection - A collection of DVD's transferred at a very high bit rate to ensure maximum visual and audio quality. But at the price of no extras. Surely the only people who would buy these DVD's are owners of high-end Home cinema systems who wish to enjoy films at their very best - like myself.
Lawrence of Arabia is a film split over two discs due to the length. Which is fine, I don't mind switching between discs halfway through the film. Particularly as this film was made with a intermission half way through. So when do you get prompted to change over the discs? 10 minutes BEFORE the intermission!
Columbia-Tristar clearly have donkeys working in their superbit DVD department if this is the kind of idiotic decision they make when mastering a film on a format DESIGNED for people who are 'Film buffs'.
What a wasted opportunity as the film looks and sounds absolutely fabulous in this format, but it is all spoilt by some fools stupid decision on where to place the disc changeover. Why not the Intermission? Is it THAT DIFFICULT?
Rant over.
Once again, don't buy this. Maybe they'll re-release it and do it properly
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on 10 September 2012
The restored version issued today on Blu Ray is wonderful. The detail is fantastic, from the small figures lost in the desert landscapes to the colours in the blankets to the small things caught in dust storms. The DTS sound is stirring, you get caught up in the thunderous charge on Aqaba, the great themes of the score and all the well remembered lines. After watching it today on a big home projector screen and full surround all I can say is that THIS is a proper film and I cannot wait to see it on a really big screen at the cinema in November.
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