The grand deserts, blowing wind and orange sun bathe the Arabian Desert–a sweeping tundra and mountains in its glow. That is what makes Lawrence of Arabia such a grand achievement, illuminating the beauty of the desert in a way no nature documentary ever will thanks to the stunning cinematography of F.A. Young.
The booming and epic score by Maurice Jarre accompanies the rising sun when we are first taken to the seemingly endless plains of Arabia. It’s a way of waking up in the morning I would sell my arm to have. Okay maybe just a finger, but that’s still a lot.
Peter O’Toole is fantastic as T.E. Lawrence, a man struggling with the harshness of war and his allegiance to both Britain and his newfound companions in the Arabian Penninsula. It’s a subtle performance, which is almost as powerful as the visuals themselves. Almost.
I can’t stress enough how gorgeous the movie is even when, for the first two hour or so, it’s really nothing but talking and riding around. But David Lean knew that was the case, and he made the movie so even if you were nodding off, it would be to sweet dreams of beautiful faraway lands.
That is the essence of Lawrence of Arabia: It’s a movie that knows it’s an epic, and doesn’t need to keep your attention with lavish effects and colors. The landscape will do it for you, which in a way is the definition of epic scope.