Lawrence of Arabia (movie)

Lawrence of Arabia ( Lawrence of Arabia ) is a British historical adventure film directed by David Lean , released in 1962 . It is inspired by the life of Thomas Edward Lawrence, whose role is played by Peter O’Toole .


During the First World War , United Kingdom officer Thomas Edward Lawrence advised the Arabs of Sharif Faisal ibn Hussein to revolt against the Turks of the Ottoman Empireand to found a modern independent Arab nation.

Technical sheet

  • Original title: Lawrence of Arabia
  • French title: Lawrence d’Arabie
  • Director: David Lean , assisted by Noël Howard and André De Toth
  • Screenplay: Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson , according to the account Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence
  • Artistic direction: John Stoll under the direction of John Box
  • Costumes: Phyllis Dalton and John Wilson-Apperson
  • Photography: Freddie Young , assisted by Ernest Day (cameraman)
  • Sound: Paddy Cunningham and John Cox
  • Editing: Anne V. Coates
  • Music: Maurice Jarre
    • Orchestration by Gerard Schurmann
    • Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra , conducted by Adrian Boult
  • Production: Sam Spiegel and David Lean
  • Production Company: Horizon Pictures
  • Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation
  • Budget: 15 million of dollars 1
  • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Languages: English , Arabic and Turkish
  • Format: color ( Technicolor ) – 2.20: 1 ( Super-Panavision 70 ) – 6-track stereo ( RCA Sound Recording ) – 70 mm
  • Genre: biography , historical adventure
  • Duration:
    • 216 minutes: cinema version
    • 228 minutes: director’s cut (1989)
    • 227 minutes: restored version (2012)
  • Release dates:
    • United Kingdom :(world premiere in London )
    • United States :( New York ),( Los Angeles )
    • France :


Caption : Dubbing of the original version (1962); additions for the long version (1992)

  • Peter O’Toole (VF: John Piat + Bernard Lanneau ) : Thomas Edward Lawrence
  • Alec Guinness (VF: Gerard Férat) : Prince Fayçal ibn Hussein
  • Anthony Quinn (FW: Henry Djanik + Richard Darbois ) : Auda ibu Tayi
  • Jack Hawkins (VF Claude Peran + Jean-Pierre Delage ) : General Edmund Allenby
  • Omar Sharif (VF: himself ) : Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish
  • José Ferrer : Turkish Bey of Damascus
  • Anthony Quayle (VF: Pierre Gay + Yves Barsacq ) : Colonel Harry Brighton
  • Claude Rains ( Jean-Paul Moulinot + Michel Modo ) : Mr. Dryden
  • Arthur Kennedy (VF: Jean-Claude Michel + Idem ) : Jackson E. Bentley
  • Donald Wolfit (VF: Yves Brainville + Idem ) : Lt. General Sir Archibald Murray
  • IS Johar (VF: George Aminel ) : Gasim
  • Gamil Ratib (VO: Robert Rietty / VF: Himself ) : Majid
  • Michel Ray : Farraj
  • John Dimech : Daud
  • Zia Mohyeddin : Tafas
  • Howard Marion-Crawford (VF: Georges Hubert ) : Medical Officer
  • Jack Gwillim : Club Secretary
  • Hugh Miller  (en) : Colonel
  • Harry Fowler (VF: Jacques Chevalier ) : Corporal William Potter
SourcesFrench version (VF) on AlloDoublage 2


Project Genesis

The original idea goes back to the accidental death of Thomas Lawrence. Indeed, the producer Alexander Korda emits at the time the wish to realize a biography. But Lawrence is not interested. After the death of the latter, Korda revived the project without success, the prospect of alliance between the United Kingdom and Turkey against the Nazi Germany preventing talk of the Ottomans as the film had to do.

In the early 1950s , Harry Cohn , then at the head of Columbia Pictures , recovered the project. After the refusal of Michael Powell , Cohn proposes the film to David Lean who, at the same time, receives the proposal of the author Terence Rattigan who writes a theatrical adaptation of Lawrence of Arabia . Cohn dying in 1958, producer Sam Spiegel decides to set up a partnership with Columbia. David Lean, they convince the r Arnold Lawrence (brother of Thomas) to sell the rights Book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, written by the late officer during his expedition to the Arabian Peninsula, provided he presented the final scenario for a final agreement.


Michael Wilson is hired after his work on the script of the Kwai River Bridge (which, incidentally, victim of Maccarthyism , he wrote in the shadows). He then begins to write a sketch on, portraying Lawrence as a cynical and opportunistic Western officer. Seeing this first version, Arnold Lawrence resells the rights to Sam Spiegel for the sum of 22,500 pounds . Wilson spends a year tweaking the script and dialogues. But when David Lean, after being discarded by various production problems, reads the 400-page script in December 1960, he blames Michael Wilson for not having romanticized Lawrence’s story enough, imposing on him personality devoid of scruples, the retreat of his masochism or even his probable homosexuality. Not accepting Lean’s demands, Wilson bows out. However part of its version is preserved, among others the opening scene on Lawrence’s accident. Sam Spiegel usesRobert Bolt , known as the author of the play A Man for Eternity , to rewrite Wilson’s screenplay. At first reluctant because of his too much experience as a playwright, he ends up accepting when the producer offers him a seal of 10,000 pounds for seven weeks of work.


Peter O’Toole in the role of Lawrence.

After having auditioned Albert Finney , judging him too young for the character of Lawrence, David Lean finally chooses Peter O’Toole after noticing it in The Day when one robbed the Bank of England where the actor embodied a soldier simpleton. However O’Toole is not very interested at first, even declaring “Everyone on Earth wanted to play this role except me. “ . To prepare, he consults photos of Lawrence and then dyes his hair. Surprisingly, Peter O’Toole finds himself confronted by witnesses who have known the real Lawrence. These could have confused the authentic character and the actor if there was no question ofm what remains far from the O’Toole meter 88).

In the role of Sheriff Ali, partly fictional, contact David Lean German actor Horst Buchholz but he prefers to engage on the film One, two, three of Billy Wilder . Subsequently, Sam Spiegel proposes the role to Alain Delon who, unfortunately, has other projects. After falling back on Maurice Ronet , Spiegel spots Omar Sharif , who is already a star in the Middle East , and finally chooses him.

Having just returned from Barabbas , Anthony Quinn accepts the role of Auda Ibu Tayi against the staggering $ 400,000. Determined to make a strong impression, Quinn shows up in Jordan, where the shots have started, decked out with a false beard and a false nose. Leaving his aunt, old Arab extras take the actor for the real Auda, so much he looks like his character. The director himself does not recognize it.

David Lean finds his favorite actor, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins after directing them in The Kwai River Bridge .


Filming begins on in Jordan. Peter O’Toole had been there for a month, learning to ride a camel and get used to the local temperature. When he rides his mount, which is filled with fleas then heated by an average temperature of 50 °, the actor goes down the thighs in blood. To relieve his back, he covers the wooden saddle with a layer of rubber he bought in Beirut .

The desert sequences are filmed in Almeria , Spain, but also in Jordan, with King Hussein providing the Jordanian army with many extras. Thus about 10 minutes of scenes (the finals) are shot including Wadi Rum , near the rocks of the Pillars of Wisdom for about 20% of the film. The scene of the Cairo Great Britain Army Headquarters is filmed on the Spanish Steps . Other footage is shot at Texas Hollywood Studios and Doñana National Park .

David Lean suffers a lot of problems everyday. The plans must be filmed between 8am and 11am, the heat becoming too overwhelming thereafter. Roy Stevens, the assistant director, said that the negative heated in the camera. As a result, director of photography Freddie Young equipped the cameras with an umbrella to prevent them from heating up and, once the scenes were in a box, the film was stored in a refrigerated lorry reserved for the base. food. Lean also comes up against another technical problem: Make sure the sand is empty. Indeed one day when a scene is turned, a cup that has been thrown passes in front of the lens, leaving even traces behind it. The master-prop Eddie Fowlie is developing a system: brooms attached to stalks that clean the sand and reconstruct streaks. Fowlie also does the trick for the scene where one of Lawrence’s companions is sucked into the quicksand. He makes and buries a box in which he enters (at the risk of choking) to pull the boy by the feet.

As usual, Lean tends to appear on the set without having the slightest idea of how he should film the scene, even to the point of making his actors wait patiently, according to Omar Sharif. The filming is therefore very late, which provokes the anger of producer Sam Spiegel. In addition, David Lean does not sympathize with his comedians outside of work, fearing that it would prevent him from directing them the next day.

The shooting is interrupted on following the arrest of Robert Bolt following a demonstration for nuclear disarmament in Trafalgar Square . Sentenced to one month in prison, Sam Spiegel does everything to free his collaborator so that he can complete the script. After the storm then a detour to London to watch the rushes, David Lean resumes shooting on December 18 in Seville to film the scenes supposed to take place in Damascus , Amman , Jerusalem and Deraa .

While shooting the sequence of the assault on Aqaba, Peter O’Toole falls off his horse but, thanks to his camel that is positioned above him, avoids trampling.

The lack of external connections with the desert forced the production to go to Morocco (mainly in the regions of Ouarzazate and Agdz ), in June 1962 . The ending sequence where Lawrence says goodbye to the desert is filmed in an unbearable heatwave. Peter O’Toole plays his stage with his feet in a bucket of ice.

Filming finally ends on .


Assisted by her co-editor Anne Coates, David Lean spends two months editing the film. Working sixteen hours a day, they reduce rushes to a footage of 222 minutes. For some passages including one with Lawrence blowing on a match shortly before a sunrise, Lean is inspired by the techniques of the new French wave of the time.


David Lean originally wanted to hire composer Malcolm Arnold , Oscar winner for The Kwai River Bridge , and William Walton . But, after watching a first montage of the film, the two men decline the offer, not believing too much in this epic. Sam Spiegel then thinks of the French composer Maurice Jarre who has just worked on the music of the Sundays of Ville-d’Avray . Jarre quickly finds the theme of the lyrical and powerful film, freely inspired by Edouard Lalo’s Piano Concerto. Winning the esteem and trust of Lean, Maurice Jarre spends six weeks writing the entire score, sleeping only two to three hours a night.


The soundtrack of the film is published by Screen Gems .

  1. Overture (4:14)
  2. Main Title (1:54)
  3. Miracle (3:08)
  4. Nefud Mirage (2:20)
  5. Rescue of Gasim and Bringing Gasim into camp (5:46)
  6. Arrival at Auda’s camp (2:01)
  7. The Voice of the Guns (1:58)
  8. Continuation of the Miracle (2:13)
  9. Suns Anvil (3:04)
  10. Lawrence & body guard (2:04)
  11. That is the Desert (2:51)
  12. End Title (1:05)


Lawrence van Arabië , programmed at the Cinema du Midi in Amsterdam(20 December 1963).

The film is coming out in the United States . Having cost a total of fifteen million dollars, it yields more than 70 million. However, judged too long, the work is amputated 35 minutes of scenes. Lawrence of Arabia is quickly considered a masterpiece, propelling even Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif to the rank of movie legends.

Although the two actors do not leave with any statuette, the film wins no less than seven Oscars including Best Film , Best Director and Best Original Music .

Long version

director’s cut version was presented at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival with 21 additional unpublished minutes. The original DVD of the film contains this long version, but the additional scenes are in the original version with subtitles.

On the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, the film was completely restored by Sony for a Blu-Ray release from the new 1989 editing. This version was presented at the Cannes 2012 Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2012 3 . The Blu-Ray contains a partial dubbing for the scenes yet so far in original version subtitled on the DVD of the film. This dubbing was made for a television broadcast of the film in 1992. The dialogues added were doubled 30 years after the release of the film by new actors with the exception of Jean-Claude Michel and Yves Brainville whose voice has clearly aged .



  • 1963 Oscars :
    • Best film : Sam Spiegel ;
    • Best Director : David Lean ;
    • Best artistic direction : John Box , John Stoll and Dario Simoni ;
    • Best Photography : Freddie Young ;
    • Best Editing : Anne V. Coates ;
    • Best Music : Maurice Jarre ;
    • Best sound : John Cox .
  • Golden Globes 1963 :
    • Best Dramatic Film : David Lean and Sam Spiegel ;
    • Best Supporting Actor : Omar Sharif ;
    • Best hope: Omar Sharif;
    • Best Director : David Lean;
    • Best Photography: Freddie Young.
  • BAFTA 1963 :
    • Best film : David Lean and Sam Spiegel;
    • BAFTA for Best British Film : David Lean and Sam Spiegel;
    • Best adapted film: David Lean and Sam Spiegel;
    • Best Actor: Peter O’Toole ;
    • Best Screenplay: Robert Bolt .
  • David di Donatello Award 1964 :
    • Best foreign film: Sam Spiegel
    • Best foreign actor: Peter O’Toole
  • The Directors Guild of America awarded the Best Director Award to David Lean in 1962 .
  • The Writers Guild of America has awarded Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson the Best Dramatic Script award.
  • The British Society of Cinematographers awarded the prize for best photography to Freddie Young .
  • David Lean best director of a foreign film by the “National Union of Italian Film Journalists”.
  • Kinema Junpo Award for best foreign film for David Lean.
  • The National Board of Review has awarded the Best Director Award to David Lean.


  • Oscars :
    • Best Actor : Peter O’Toole ;
    • Best Supporting Actor : Omar Sharif ;
    • Best adapted screenplay : Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson .
  • Peter O’Toole has been nominated for the Golden Globe of Best Hope.
  • Anthony Quinn has been nominated for BAFTA ‘s Best Foreign Actor.


  • The title of Serge Lamothe’s novel Mektoub is an explicit reference to Ali ibn el Kharish’s fatalistic counterpart to Lawrence of Arabia to dissuade him from going in search of his bodyguard lost in the desert. “Mektoub”: it was written, it was his destiny, there is nothing to do.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ ” Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Box office / business ” on IMDb (accessed 8 March 2016 )
  2. ↑ “French dubbing sheet of the film” on AlloDoublage , accessed December 8, 2014
  3. ↑ ” Lawrence of Arabia, a film entered in the legend ” , on Festival of Cannes (consulted on March 8, 2016 )

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