AFI Top 100: No. 7 Lawrence of Arabia


Ah your classic epic film, Lawrence of Arabia. Dramatic, violent, flawed hero, iconic music, iconic scenery and of course, length. The film, based on T.E. Lawrence’s memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom, covers the part of Lawrence’s life in Arabia during World War I.

Nowadays, this film would have been easily made into two, maybe even three parts. There was no way we could have finished this in one sitting, especially on a week night, and it really would be much better suited (and likely better developed) had it been multiple films. As a lover of history, this film touched on a part of the recent past that is often forgotten in our minds but has left a lasting impact on the Middle East. While this film, like every other historical movie, is not completely accurate, it nevertheless gives knowledge about events many may not know. Many people do not know the history of the formation of these countries and how heavily they were influenced by Western governments such as the UK and France.

Flawed characters are my favorite and Peter O’Toole excelled as the peculiar and brilliant Lawrence. His character was unique in that he recognized his flaws, attempted to push them away at points but eventually embraced them until they became his downfall. The film showed him as brilliant, egotistical and a bit of a savage. The battle scenes were epic, bloody and terrifying. By showing that Lawrence, a British gentleman could get caught up in the melee of blood thirst, and showing his guilt to his lust of it… it was an interesting concept. He had several clever, dry, witty quotes throughout the film that were a nice takeaway from the war around.

The music from this was outstanding and the scenery was incredible, as it is in all epics. Overall the film was well-made and impressive but not one I’m likely to watch again anytime soon. However if they were to make a movie about T. E. Lawrence’s archaeological tours throughout the Middle East prior to the war… that I would certainly watch. Better yet, make a movie about Freya of Arabia or Gertrude Bell.

Two random things: it took me until the end of the film to realize where I recognized Prince Faisal’s voice from. Hello Obi-Wan!  Also, there were no women in this film. Definitely felt odd.

Next Up: No. 6 Gone with the Wind


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