30 Days of Oscar: Day 29 - Lawrence of Arabia

Movie: Lawrence of Arabia
Year: 1963
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (David Lean), Best Actor (Peter O'Toole), Best Supporting Actor (Omar Sharif), Cinematography (Color), Editing, Sound, Score, Art Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay
Wins/Snubs: Best Picture, Director, Cinematography (Color), Editing, Sound, Score, Art Direction all took the Oscar.  Gregory Peck beat O'Toole for To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ed Begley in Sweet Bird of Youth beat Sharif - who was too pretty to win anyway.
Last year, I completed the 30 days with Ben-Hur, so it only seemed fitting to knock off another epic and I saved Lawrence of Arabia for just such an occasion.  Coming in just short of 3 and a 1/2 hours, it took a while - and shockingly isn't even the longest Oscar winner (LOTR: Return of the King and Gone with the Wind take that).   As with Ben-Hur, it was worth almost every second.  Peter O'Toole is pretty amazing - and he's young and cute too.  O'Toole is real-life T. E. Lawrence is a lieutenant in the British military stationed in Cairo during World War I.  He's sent to assess the likelihood Prince Faisal (Alec Guiness - seriously) the head of a tribe fighting the Turks, might succeed.  On his way, he meets Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) when Lawrence and his guide drink from his well - so Sherif kills his guide.  Lawrence is pretty savvy in the desert, though and finds his way anyway.  This is the beginning of his love affair with this area - he goes on to help the various tribes beat back the Turks.  He becomes accepted by some of the people, even donning their dress, instead of his military fatigues.  
There is so much of this movie to describe, and so many parts of it, you'll already recognize - I'd bet they've used parts of the score on anything movie themed (the Oscars must have used it dozens of times).  Whether or not you've ever seen this movie, you'll know a huge part of it.  I will say, the fact that Anthony Quinn and Alec Guinness play Arabs is a little off-putting, and Omar Sharif, while part Egyptian, is way too pretty to be believable as living in the desert.  But these are more reflections of their time, and the acting is pretty great, not racist or over the top itself (think unlike Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffanys).  I loved it - the last time I had a reaction to an actor I've known in very different roles was seeing Al Pacino in The Godfather.  O'Toole carries the film brilliantly, with his reluctance for violence, and joy at being accepted by people unlike himself.   Within this amazingly gorgeous scenery, you completely miss the fact that hours are passing, which speaks to this movie's ability to combine some spectacular viewing.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you liked it! I used to watch it when I was sick as a kid; perhaps all the desert scenes made a fever feel less hot. I got a chance to see a restored 70mm print a couple of years ago and it was gorgeous! - Alexa


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