Cinema: A Masterpiece Restored to the Screen: Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia shows how ravishing films used to be

It seemed a mad gamble: a $12 million epic about an eccentric English adventurer on the fringe of World War I, set in the sere deserts of the Middle East. It was hell to shoot: 18 months in the singeing sun of Jordan, Morocco and Spain. It had an obscure actor in the title role and no speaking parts for women. When it opened in New York City during the 1962 newspaper strike, one of the film's few reviewers, Andrew Sarris, called it "dull, overlong and coldly impersonal . . . hatefully calculating and condescending."

How sweet the balm of history....

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