Lawrence Of Arabia

Featured In Issue 172, December 2012

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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David Lean
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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The new, digitally-restored and remastered Director's cut of "Lawrence Of Arabia" Blu-ray Disc™ starts out with a black screen while the Roadshow Overture portion of the film plays. If it bothers you, just imagine being in the audience when the film first was released. The theatre is filling up with people, they're settling into their seats, adjusting their handbags and jackets, and anticipating an exciting few hours lost in the sand-swept deserts of the Middle East. Better? Even though the film runs long, it is presented on one disc with an intermission. In the theatre there was also an intermission; and on the disc there is a black screen and music there, too...and at the Finale as we gather our belongings and quietly exit for the lobby. The film is a magnificent cinematic masterpiece from Director David Lean. Peter O'Toole stars as T.E. Lawrence, the legendary Englishman who united the Arab tribes against the Turks during World War I, 1917-1918 Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards® and won seven: Best Picture (Beating out "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Mutiny On The Bounty," "The Music Man," and "The Longest Day"—what a year!), Director, Cinematography (Color), Art Direction (Color), Score (Substantially Original), Film Editing, and Sound. (Laurie Sevano)

Disc One offers the entire Director's cut of the film including overture, intermission, and entrance and exit music and a Bonus View "Secrets Of Arabia" picture-in-graphic track. Disc Two contains the special features, which include an all-new interview/featurette "Peter O'Toole Revisits Lawrence Of Arabia" (HD 21:07); "The Making Of Lawrence of Arabia" documentary (HD 61:29); a conversation with Steven Spielberg (HD 08:49); four vintage featurettes: "Maan, Jordan: the Camels Are Cast" (SD 02:00), "In Search Of Lawrence" (SD 05:00), "Romance Of Arabia" (SD 04:37), and "Wind, Sand And Star: The Making Of A Classic" (1970) (SD 04:32); the New York premiere (SD 01:08); an advertising campaign featurette (SD 04:51); and an UltraViolet digital copy download.

Previously reviewed in Issue 78 as an anamorphically enhanced 2.20:1 Superbit™ DVD, the picture exhibits the typical improvements expected from a Superbit title. While not a brand new transfer, the DVD incorporated an entirely new color correction. Colors appeared to have been toned down a notch in comparison to the previous DVD reviewed in Issue 47, with fleshtones that didn't appear as "hot," sand that is not so orange, and colors that appear noticeably brighter. However, blacks could appear slightly weak in some scenes by comparison. While detail was nicely rendered on the previous edition, the Superbit version offered a slight refinement of finer details. Unfortunately, edge enhancement was still just as bothersome as the previous DVD, save for the fact that colors do not provide as much contrast to the edge halos. This new Blu-ray 1080p AVC picture was meticulously remastered from a new 4K transfer. Resolution is superb with fine nuanced detail exhibited in facial features, hair, clothing, object texture, and desert sand. The color palette is vibrant with rich and strongly saturated hues, but still natural in appearance. Blacks are deep and solid. Contrast is nicely balanced with colorful contrast between blue skies and desert sand. Fleshtones are healthy in appearance as well. Any indication of artifacts is absent, with the film showing no signs of wear. This is the best that the film has ever looked on a home video format. The imagery is beautiful and timeless, and remarkably so given its 50th Anniversary. (Gary Reber)

The original multichannel magnetic soundtrack has been very well restored for this definitive Blu-ray release, with background hiss and archival-related artifacts remarkably low or entirely absent. The primary multidimensional element is certainly Maurice Jarre's legendary music score, which has a sweeping, enveloping presence that totally surrounds you with prominent surround envelopment. The only limitation with the music is the dated recording. In the absence of the music, the audio is usually of a quiescent nature, generally originating from the screen channels, but also comes alive in scenes with the vintage stereophonic rendering of a battle sequence. Voices are presented with remarkable clarity, though the dated recording limits their natural tonality, as would be expected. The soundtrack repurposing includes the incorporation of low-frequency enhancement and the .1 LFE channel, typically with the music but also with some effects. This is certainly a sonic restoration and remastering effort that is worthy of commendation and brings back to the audience much of the glory of the original 70 mm magnetic stereo sound. (Gary Reber)