David Liu | 5 October 2012
Fifty years have elapsed since the words “introducing Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence” graced the screen for the first time at Odeon Leicester Square in London, backed by an elegiac score by then relatively unknown Maurice Jarre. It was also the first time moviegoing audiences were treated by director David Lean to some of the finest spectacles in long-form cinema: from flame to eternal flame, a conversation at the well, among others. A half-century after its premiere, Lawrence of Arabia and those involved in its creation have deservedly attained pantheon status.
With a panache rarely seen before or since, Freddie Young’s 70mm camerawork captures the breathtaking expanse of the Arabian desert on multiple levels: a dessicated ocean in which only the fittest survive, a silent witness to millennia of politics and bloodshed and a sprawling metaphor for the ambitions of its major personalities — O’Toole’s impassioned Lawrence, Omar Sharif’s earnest Sherif Ali, Anthony Quinn’s roguish Auda abu Tayi and Alec Guinness’s principled Prince Faisal.
Previously on Open Spaces: light tricks in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America.
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