“I’m different,” declares Peter O’Toole’s T.E. Lawrence. Director David Lean had worked on something approaching this scale on The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), but his masterstroke with Lawrence of Arabia was to centre this colossal epic about the WWI Arab revolt on a strange and fascinating performance from O’Toole, then enough of an unknown to merit the credit “And Introducing...”.
One stunning set piece follows another: the entrance of Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) through a mirage, the capture of the town of Aqaba and the attack on a Turkish train. But for all this epic splendour Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson’s script asks searching questions about identity and loyalty, and the ultimately grim view of British intervention in Arab affairs remains all too relevant.