I admittedly knew little about this movie, and so everything (except the length of the film) was more or less a surprise.
Here's some quick thoughts I had on the film.
- I always thought Peter O'Toole's character's given-name was Lawrence, and was surprised that he was Thomas Edward Lawrence (T.E. Lawrence).
- I thought that the movie started off slower than slow, and then about a quarter through the film (about an hour in) the film becomes everything I expected with a powerful and inspirational portrayal of leadership and determination.
- About half way through the film, the film takes that turn (you watchers of the film know what I'm talking about) and I was totally surprised at Lawrence's character arc. This was not at all what I expected.
- The 1963 academy awards pitted Peter O'Toole up against a fantastic field of actors, and despite Lawrence of Arabia's 7 awards, O'Toole did not win - instead he lost to Gregory Peck, To Kill A Mockingbird. Talk about tough competition. The Peck win is appropriate.
- There is sweeping beauty in the technical virtues of this film (the sand, so much sand), yet it would be interesting to see what this film would be like edited to a more standard feature length (two hours, twenty minutes...tops). I think it could be done, and still be powerful. I watched this film in multiple sittings - I can't imagine watching it in the theater in a single sitting.
- I realized watching the film how limited my understanding of Arabian history is, I didn't really know about the Arab front in WWI or anything about the Kingdom of Hejaz. The film inspired some minor research to better understand the world at that time.
- David Lean connects to me sometimes better than others (I really enjoy his Great Expectations and The Bridge on the River Kwai) but other times I find him less engaging (such as Summertime or A Passage to India). At almost four hours long, the first hour or so was less engaging, but by the last half I was all in.