Its rare now a days when you can walk into a film and allow the film to draw you in so bloody well that even hours after you walk out of it you keep seeing things in Technicolor, Lawrence of Arabia did just that for me ,for the whole runtime of 3 hrs 50 mins, i was in a state of trance, completely mesmerized..there wasnt a moment in the film when i took my eyes off the screen and the best part was i had this tingling sensation in my spine and goose pimple on more that one occasion. I would be lying if i say that this film caught me off guard (a film which ranks in the top 10 films ever made) so i was aware that i am in for something big and spectacular..but spectacular with so much heart, this is something i did not expect. Each frame (shot on Super 70 Pan Vision) of this film is a work of art. watching it is like watching a poetry in motion, the haunting music score by Maurice Jarre, the immaculate cinematography by Freddie Young and Art Direction by John Stohll is spot on. As for the director, well do i need to say anything, its David Lean for crying out loud, probably with his most ambitious film.
Based on the life of T.E.Lawrence this film adapts from two biographical sources "Revolt in the Desert" and "Seven pillars of Wisdom", the film is an account of how a British soldier(T.E.Lawrence played by the legendary Peter 'O' Toole ) lead Arab insurgents to revolt against Turks, the films cross weaves themas of espionage, friendship,leadership, survival,velor and reluctant heroism..but forget the story, the film is a visual delight..the vast desert landscapes and never ending mirages, the frames painted in hues of blue and reds, i have never ever seen any thing like this before and i dont think i will see it ever again and thats exactly what makes this film so special..it has dated so well , that even if you see it today it will hold on its own among all that thrash thats is produced ever year , masquerading as entertainment.
Those were the times my friend..when you didnt have visual effects and green screen so if there is a shot when an Air Craft flys a few feets from the ground bombing a camp as it goes..its really a Air Craft flying so low..or for instance when there is a hoard of people stepping out of there tents and getting ready to attack the Turkish army for the first time..its no crowd manipulation, and of course how can i forget the best of it..when a Locomotive derails..!!
Coming back to where i started..watch the sequence in which Lawarance, Sharif Ali and a troop of 50 men is crossing the Nefud desert..the journey is an 'edge of the seat with a lump in you throat affair'..it will rate in my "top 10 scary moments of all time" the way they have encompassed the seclusion and how it takes over a mans mind , is just beautiful..!!
Its a sort of film which can not be put together in words, i am finding it extremely hard to continue writing as i am falling short of superlatives and therefore bearing the risk of getting repetitive. But before i end here are few small trivia
- The film don't have a female lead, as a matter of fact it just doesn't has any actress other than those extras.
- Dilip Kumar was the first choice for the role of Sharif Ali which later went to Omar Sharif
- To film Omar Sharif's entrance through a mirage, 'Freddie Young (I)' used a special 482mm lens from Panavision. Panavision still has this lens, and it is known among cinematographers as the "David Lean lens".
- Peter O'Toole's performance as T.E. Lawrence is the #1 ranked performance of all time in Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.
So for those of you who hasn't seen this film, buy a 29 inch television or anything bigger (if you don't have it ) and rent the film and watch this spectacle unravel, for those of you who have seen it when it was played on AXN..watch it again and for those of you who got a chance to see it in theater--- Grrrrr!!! I envy you..!!
Statutory Warning : Do not watch this film on any screen which is less than 29 inches.