At the start of this project, I hadn't really been acquainted with many lengthy films outside of, say, Titanic. I mean, I thought a movie was long if it was 2 or 2.5 hours. Anything over 3 was insanity. Needless to say, this project has given me quite a bit more experience with the lengthier of the art. And at roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes, Lawrence of Arabia is one of the longest films on this list (though not the longest), and I believe wraps up as the final long epic of the year... which is kind of poetic in a way, since this is considered something like the epic of all epics.
The film tells the true story of T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole), a British soldier who gets stationed in Arabia. He partners up with Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness) and creates a guerrilla army to fight against the Turks during World War I. He also, eventually, fights with the British again against the Ottoman Empire.
One of the most interesting things about this movie was that, despite its length, it had a pretty fine pacing. Part I of the film is slightly over the first two hours, and it moved very smoothly and quickly. I unfortunately did have to do other things as I watched (not because of the film, but because I was forced to double task... but I tried to pay as much attention as I possibly could, as it actually did interest me). I'm not sure if that had anything to do with it, or of the fact I had to watch it over the course of two nights (Part 1 on one night and Part 2 the next), but I felt similarly to this as I did with Gone With The Wind. It moved quickly, stayed interesting, had some really great cinematography, and was rather enjoyable.
I didn't enjoy everything, though. There were some aspects I didn't care for. Sometimes O'Toole's acting became a bit over-the-top and cheesy. Also, it was hard to believe that anyone could mistake him as an Arab at times, despite the fact that some clearly do. Then again, there could have been a point to that based on his actions (which I'll get to shortly). And there were a couple parts here and there that weren't as interesting to me as others. Most of them dealt with the British side of the story after the beginning.
However, I'd say one of my favorite aspects was one of the most unexpected. I don't know much about Lawrence, so I didn't realize how much of a character study it was going to be and how insane he gets. It's really a movie about this man's sanity. He goes into it rather green, though very intelligent. Then he learns their way, becomes like them, and is basically immersed in their way of life. When he returns to his home, he stays dressed in his garb from Arabia. It's not until a pivotal moment where he wants to give it up and be British again, but then finds he struggles to do so. And he goes back and you really see how much he's lost it. To be honest, this film would pair up nicely with The Hurt Locker, as I saw quite a few similarities between the two.
So I can't say that Lawrence of Arabia is for everyone, but I'm sure everyone could find something to like about it. Will I ever sit down and watch it again? Probably not. If for some reason it comes on TV and there's nothing else on and I have nothing to do, I might put it on and watch for a while. It's a spectacularly made film. Normally I say decent-sized chunks could be cut, but I'm not sure here. I know there's some that could be removed easily, but the film would still be over 3 hours long. If you like this kind of film and don't mind longer films, definitely check it out. If this isn't your cup of tea, you actually still might find something to enjoy with it, but I can't tell you to go out and watch it immediately. Really good, and I liked it much more than I thought I was going to.
(P.S. The soundtrack is excellent, too... and it took me forever to realize where I recognized the main theme from. So I looked it up and... yup, they use it for the score in the desert scenes in Spaceballs. That's a joke that makes so much more sense now.)
(P.P.S. That does it for this month! There's just one more left, guys and gals! And it should be an easy one. It's just what's left... the light stuff. First up? A movie I've been rather ashamed for quite a few years for never having seen... so it'll be great to finally check it out.