Five years after winning his first Best Director Oscar for The Bridge on the River Kwai, David Lean repeated his win in 1962 for the epic drama, Lawrence of Arabia. The film, based on T.S. Lawrence's (Peter O'Toole; The Lion in Winter) life and his 1926 book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, focuses on his time in the Army, especially working with the Arab Bureau and Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness; Star Wars: A New Hope) to help with the revolt against the Turks. As the classic movie celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing it for purchase in a 4K Steelbook combo pack.
Lawrence didn't really fit in with the other soldiers in the British army, so when he is ordered to assess the situation in the Ottoman territories he readily complies. However, once he is there, he disobeys orders to quietly observe and then report back. Instead, he works with the Arabs to fight against the Turks, befriending Prince Faisal in the process. All is going well until Lawrence is taken and flogged, leaving him shaken. He heads to British headquarters in Cairo and is reluctant to return when pressed by his commanding officer. Lawrence then fights with the Arabs to capture Damascus, only to have it end up under British rule when infighting causes the Arabs to abandon the City.
While not originally considered to play Lawrence, O'Toole was eventually offered the part which became his breakthrough role earning him the first of eight Academy Award Nominations. Guinness was already an established actor who lent an air of validation to the film. The rest of the cast was also made up of quality thespians including Anthony Quinn (Zorba the Greek), Claude Raines (The Invisible Man), and Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago).
Even though this is not the first time this film has been restored, even being released previously in 4K, this version is by far the best one yet. There is slightly less graininess throughout, the details are just a little bit sharper and the shading and colors are rich and deep without over-saturation.
The Dolby Atmos audio compliments the picture quality nicely. The addition of channels especially in the height makes all the difference. The dialogue sits up front while ambient noise surrounds the viewer. The Combo pack includes four discs. The first two are the 4K version of the movie presented in two parts with an intermission. The first disc also includes one extra: Unused International Prologue. Disc three is the Blu-ray version and again, one extra: Secrets of Arabia: A Picture-in-Graphics Track. Finally, disc four houses the rest of the previously released extras: Peter O'Toole Revisits Lawrence of Arabia, Making of Lawrence of Arabia, Deleted Balcony Scene with Introduction by Anne V. Coates, The Lure of the Desert: Martin Scorsese on Lawrence of Arabia, A Conversation with Steven Spielberg, Wind, Sand, and Star: The Making of a Classic (1963 Version), Wind, Sand, and Star: The Making of a Classic (1970 Version), Maan, Jordan: The Camels Are Cast, In Search of Lawrence, Romance of Arabia, King Hussein Visits Lawrence of Arabia Set, In Love with the Desert, Lawrence at 50: A Classic Restored, Steven Spielberg on Lawrence of Arabia, William Friedkin on Lawrence of Arabia, Sydney Pollack on Lawrence of Arabia, New York Premiere, Advertising Campaigns, Theatrical Trailer, Theatrical Teaser Trailer #1, Theatrical Teaser Trailer #2, 70mm Restoration Trailer (1989 Release), TV Spot #1, and TV Spot #2.
It is truly something special when a classic, Academy Award-winning film can be presented in the most advanced technology and Sony has done a terrific job with many of their releases in this regard. Lawrence of Arabia is certainly no exception and the steelbook is definitely worth the price.