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June 30, 1989 - Image 78

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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FRIDAY, JUNE 30, 1989

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1006 Ann Street Birmingham, MI 48009
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Omar Sharif won an Academy Award nomination for his role in
"Lawrence of Arabia."

'Lawrence Of Arabia'
Re-Release Tops Original

AVIVA KEMPNER

Special to The Jewish News

T

he recent re-release of
the four-hour version
of Lawrence of Arabia
successfully withstood the
passage of time like a fine
bottle of Rothschild wine. Ac-
tually the film has gotten bet-
ter because the 70mm
restoration includes scenes
not viewed since the film was
first shown and a new and im-
proved Dolby sound recording.
The original length of the
film had been shortened by 20
minutes because of pressure
from movie theater ex-
hibitors. And to add insult to
injury, the film was again
edited down by another 15
minutes in 1970 for reissue.
Columbia Pictures and
restorer Robert Harris or-
chestrated this restoration of
the film.
Lawrence of Arabia is the
story of a dashing, romantic
yet driven Englishman with
a vision for a new political
configuration for the Middle
East. T.E. Lawrence (played
by Peter O'Toole) was a
British officer stationed in
Egypt where the British
ruled during World War I.
The Turks had dominated the
rest of the Arab world under
the Ottoman Empire since
1500, but in World War I the
Turkish government made
the mistake of siding with the
Germans which made them
politically vulnerable.
England was on the opposing
side and was willing to
bankroll the demise of the Ot-
toman Empire.
Lawrence's vision was for a
unified Arab kingdom and
the placing of the Hashemites

Former Detroit filmmaker Aviva
Kempner is working on a
documentary about Hank

Greenberg.

on its throne. (The present
King of Jordon is a direct
descendent of this family.)
But his military strategy was
not easy to implement
because of the existence of
many inter-tribal Arab
disputes in the region. A
classic example of grounds for
battle was the territoriality
exercised over who rules a
well in the desert.
Early on in the film O'Toole
learns the hard way about
"turf well politics" when he
loses his first guide over a few
borrowed drops of water to
Sharif Ali ibn el Kharish
(Omar Sharif). Although he
loses in his first encounter
with Sharif, O'Toole later
gains his respect and together
they lead the Arab revolt
against the Turks. Sharif, no-
mianted for an Academy
Award, breaks the Western
stereotype of Arabs by por-
traying an educated and
proud man.
The film bursts with some
of the great and most famous
male character actors. Fine
performances are given by
Alex Guinness as Prince
Feisal, Anthony Quinn as
Auda Abu Tayi, Jack
Hawkins as General Allenby,
Jose Ferer as Turkish Bey
and Claude Rains as Mr.
Dryden. The Semitic make-up
jobs, however, are somewhat
shaky.
The film contains no female
characters. Women are only
seen briefly in one scene as
background extras noisly
cheerleading the men to bat-
tle and thrown on the ground
dead in another one. Suffi-
cient to say that women did
not play a role at all in these
wartime activities.

The most riveting acting
performance is delivered by
the then unknown actor
O'Toole. He was a young Irish
star of the Royal Shakespeare

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