T. E. Lawrence (O'Toole) is a young maladjusted lieutenant in the British Army serving in North Africa during World War One. Unhappy with his current assignment coloring maps, he is co-opted into a role as an observer in what is now Arabia. At this point, the story of his life becomes the stuff of legend.
David Lean's 1962 masterpiece returns to the big screen, albeit in a digital projection which isn’t quite as gorgeous as the film prints used for previous reissues. It’s still a visually and aurally magnificent work, built around a terrific performance from Peter O’Toole — who shows the tangle of neuroses and compulsions that make T. E. Lawrence such a lasting enigma. If fashions in casting make boot-polish-and-false-nose Arabs Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn campier than intended, Omar Sharif adds a note of ethnic authenticity. Also, it has Maurice Jarre’s music, and an epic sweep which doesn’t preclude tiny, personal touches.
Lean's great Lawrence Of Arabia biopic honours him with a complex, sympathetic but a compelling portrayal. The digital transfer leeches some of the grainy majesty of celluloid but the chance to see this on the big screen should not be missed.