Lawrence of Arabia was the first major role for Peter O’Toole, who died ten years ago this December. A legend of world cinema, David Lean’s Oscar-winning film has become a timeless cinematic spectacle.
British officer Thomas Edward Lawrence blows out a burning match, and the power of film editing carries us through space and time to an endless desert that is just being illuminated by a blood-red sunrise. The First World War is in full swing, and Lawrence struggles under the scorching sun to unite the fragmented Arab tribes in their fight against the Ottoman Empire. David Lean’s Oscar-winning classic is not just a timeless cinematic spectacle, but also an intimate character study and an immersive experience in which the desert becomes an extension of the mysteries of the human mind. Peter O’Toole, who died ten years ago this December, excels in his first major role. Even today, his sculpted face and azure blue eyes exploring the question of his own identity – a question asked, in one way or another, by all of us – remain a work of art with lasting value.