Blu-ray Review: ‘Lawrence of Arabia’

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Blu-ray Review: ‘Lawrence of Arabia’
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Screen shot from the extended (12 minute) Columbia Pictures trailer for "Lawrence of Arabia" Date 1 …

David Lean's 1962 historical opus "Lawrence of Arabia" comes out on a two-disc Blu-ray edition consisting of the film's 224-minute version, its UV digital copy, and a couple of bonus materials. This biographical drama about the famed British military officer T.E. Lawrence explores his journey to the Middle East during World War I. It focuses on his personal and professional encounters as he unexpectedly unites warring Arab factions, which lead to the fall of the ruling Turkish Empire. This sweeping epic is often considered as one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time. It stars Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, and Jose Ferrer.

Visuals

This ultimate sand-and-sandals picture features a very intimate tale packaged in an epic scale. From the treacherous battlefields to the geographic splendor of vast Arabian vistas, this period offering is every inch a visual treat. It makes fine use of countless emotions and events to assemble many captivating journeys across varying desert locations. With its hundreds of real men and camels, as well as natural desert sets and intricate costumes, it aptly showcases a compelling collection of expansive scenes during a time when digital effects are not yet available.

This sweeping piece's gorgeous filmic elements deliver startling clarity and accuracy in Blu-ray format. Colors and texture maintain a timeless appeal in the presentation. Even with the film's age, shots are free of unwanted artifacts and digital tinkering concerns. Details and flesh tones remain exacting throughout.

Audio

The package boasts a five-channel lossless audio track, as well as five-channel dubbed tracks in French and Japanese. The audibly captivating mix shapes the audience's cinematic experience with its dynamic precision, superb clarity, excellent pacing, and effective channel separation. For such a dated piece, it provides prominent and natural-sounding surrounds and well-handled ambient effects. The audio elements move about the soundstage with efficiency. The rousing musical score serves as the track's sonic highlight.

Supplements

This Blu-ray package contains a fine assortment of extras, which primarily include expansive documentaries and retrospective materials. It also contains a couple of production featurettes, film premiere footage, and advertising campaigns. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Japanese, and Dutch.

Final Thoughts

From the dynamic presence of the breakout performances to the authentic backdrops where the film's characters dwell, "Lawrence of Arabia" renders a compelling dramatic portrait of a man set against the trappings of war, friendship, and solidarity. With Lean's masterful hands, this awe-inspiring piece of spectacle is able to convey so much personal drama, while also covering such a broad physical scope. The strong character development of the enigmatic figure T.E. Lawrence establishes well-documented masochistic tendencies and a taste for sensual ruthlessness in this psychological tragedy. It is truly worth a watch in this first-rate Blu-ray release.

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