Before you read this, take a long look at your TV. It’s too small, isn’t it? Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying something bigger, if only you had a decent excuse. Well, that excuse is here and its name is Lawrence of Arabia (1962, 3 hrs., 47 mins., PG). David Lean’s masterpiece about the eccentric, enigmatic British soldier who led the Arab bedouins against the Turks during WWI is, quite simply, the greatest, most sweeping, most eye-dazzling epic of all time. And thanks to the sparkling 4K digital restoration included on a new four-disc, 50th-anniversary box set, it looks better than ever. The film’s two most famous scenes — where Omar Sharif’s sheikh Ali appears out of the hazy desert on camelback to shoot a trespasser at his water hole, and where Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence blows out a match and the film cuts to the slowly rising, fiery-furnace sun on the shimmering horizon — will give goose bumps to anyone who loves movies. Lean and his cinematographer, Freddie Young, made every other wide-screen spectacle of the era (El Cid, Spartacus, Ben-Hur) look puny. Still, so much about the film is outsize, it’s easy to overlook just how nuanced and intimate O’Toole’s performance is. In this stunning high-def transfer, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the piercing blue of his eyes, the flaxen gold of his hair, and the crimson red of the blood that gets spilled in his romantic quest. In a new, 21-minute interview with the actor on the set’s terrific EXTRAS, O’Toole also proves he’s still a saucy raconteur at 80, explaining how painful it was to ride a camel every day. ”My bottom was in pieces,” he says with a cackle. Elsewhere on the bonus materials, there are testimonials from Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, a tasty deleted scene between O’Toole and Jack Hawkins’ General Allenby, an 88-page coffee-table book, and a ”picture-in-graphics” option that dishes out backstory tidbits and making-of trivia about the film as it unspools. Sadly, the only thing not included is a massive TV screen to watch it on. For that, you’re on your own. A
MOST EPIC EPIC Lean's desert classic Lawrence of Arabia celebrates its 50th anniversary with a must-have box set (Everett Collection)
Starring: Peter O'Toole; Starring: Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn; Director: David Lean; Runtime (in minutes): 227; MPAA Rating: PG; Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Posted January 17 2015 — 5:04 PM EST
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