ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Film Review: Lawrence of Arabia

Updated on January 5, 2016
Film Frenzy profile image

Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 1962, David Lean released Lawrence of Arabia, based on events in the Arabian Peninsula during World War I. Starring Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy, Omar Sharif, and Peter O’Toole, the film grossed $70 million at the box office. Nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama, the film won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Substantially Original Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound along with the Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director of a Motion Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Most Promising Newcomer – Male (O’Toole), Most Promising Newcomer – Male (Sharif), and Best Cinematography, Color. Steven Spielberg cites this film as the one that inspired him to become a filmmaker.


A misfit British Army lieutenant, T. E. Lawrence is notable for his insolence and knowledge and is sent to assess the prospects of Prince Faisal in his revolt against the Turks. But after a surprise attack on Aqaba that results in victory, Lawrence is promoted to major and he launches a guerilla war.


Incredibly well-made, Lawrence of Arabia is a very engaging film that actually deconstructs the common White Savior trope. Though it’s presented straight up first when Lawrence impresses the Arabs and becomes one of their leaders, the film goes from there and subverts it when it’s shown that he has no understanding of their culture, motivations, or problems. Further when he attempts to forsake his own people in order to help the Arabs, the film shows that they don’t really want his help and demonstrates that the British, a culture more advanced and determined than the Arabs, have the advantage against the divided and more primitive Arabs. Lawrence’s beliefs that he can be the one to help the Arabs succeed is shown in a conversation between Colonel Brighton and General Allenby. The former states that the Arabs believe Lawrence to be some kind of prophet while the latter turns it around and states that Lawrence might believe himself to be. It’s shown that Lawrence actually may have those assumptions as well, considering he tells Faisal that he’s going to work the man’s miracle (which Faisal responds that Lawrence is being blasphemous) and that he later tells Auda that he can cross Sinai in 10 days because Moses did (and Auda replies that Moses was a prophet).

But in the scope of the entire film, Lawrence is given a rather interesting character arc. Initially, he’s an insubordinate lieutenant who really wants to get out of his desk job and becomes quite excited when he discovers that he’s being transferred to Arabia as he sees the aiding of the revolt as a grand adventure. However, while the first half of the film does have the tones of an epic adventure with a climactic battle scene, it changes in the second half, which demonstrates that Lawrence’s belief that he’s a sort of knight or prophet to the Arabs and can unite them is wishful thinking. Further, the film shows that he is quite naïve about the imperial ambitions of the British in the Middle East. What’s more is that he’s shown as prideful about his ability to withstand a lot of physical pain, but the film rolls on and it’s seen that even Lawrence is human and has a breaking point.

At least the film shows that the tribal factions of which Lawrence’s force consists attempts to unite and work together. Lawrence was able to have some success in getting them to set aside their differences as they are able to occupy Damascus, but it doesn’t last as they resume fighting once the city is occupied, with the Arab National Council devolving into belligerent bickering. It’s even commented on with Auda telling Ali that being an Arab, rather than simply being a member of a tribe, will be much harder than he imagined.

O’Toole’s acting is also notable. It was his first starring role with him doing mostly stage work at that point, which is apparent in his overacting in many scenes. However, this can be seen as intentional as Lawrence was trying to make himself out to have a much bigger persona than he really possessed. O’Toole’s overacting could be seen as him carrying himself in such a manner that would be appropriate for someone trying to come off as much more grandiose than he actually is.

5 stars for Lawrence of Arabia

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)