In my last review, I mentioned this film, and I wanted to know if this would be grand and epic, like Ben-Hur, or dull and boring, like The Bridge On The River Kwai. Well, it looks like i’ve got about half and half, because while watching this 3 1/2 hour extravaganza, I know I’ve definitely seen better, but I’ve definitely seen worse.
T.E. Lawrence (Peter O. Toole) is a British officer sent to Arabia to monitor an Arabian Rebellion led by Alec Guinness. [These Are Not The Arabs You’re Looking For]. Basically, he was just sent there to estimate their chances of winning. But instead, he is touched by the culture and their cause, and eventually becomes one of them.
So, the good? This movie is massive. Every scene has something to admire, and the score is one of the best of the best pictures. You really feel like you’re there as everything is going down. Also, Peter O’ Toole is wonderful in the leading role. He just steals the movie in every scene he’s in. He’s just amazing, but I’m not going to say, ‘should’ve won’, because I have yet to see To Kill A Mockingbird. (Complain all you want, I have something BIG planned after the Best Pictures are done.)
Now for the bad. This movie is over three and a half hours long, and while director David Lean has improved from Bridge On The River Kwai, but he’s still no William Wyler. The finished product is impressive to look at, but not very refined as a film. For example, while we do spend a lot of time with the characters, we don’t really get to know them. We don’t really get a sense of why Lawrence sides with the Arabs, he just does. Near the end, he decides he hates the Arabs, and then decides he likes them, and then decides he hates them again. Also he says odd things that make it hard to identify with him.
As dull as it is, finishing the film is an expedition all it’s own, which is why I described it as having a very satisfactory ending. I watched the film in fragments, bit by little bit. While, I certainly wouldn’t call it the 7th greatest movie of al time (Seriously, AFI? You know Mary Poppins isn’t on your list at all!) I do respect it as a piece of cinema. I understand why others would give it five stars, but I think it could’ve been better. Still, good improvement, David Lean.
Next one’s Tom Jones. Run time? 2 hours, 8 minutes. Geez, I’m really starting to appreciate Marty.