Parents' Guide to

Lawrence of Arabia

By M. Faust, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Mature teens will appreciate this gripping epic.

Movie PG 1962 222 minutes
Lawrence of Arabia Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 8+

Amazing, Beautiful, and Worthwhile

Out of all the films that I've watched that exceed three hours, this would be in the top three. It's marvelous. Did you know that they had a special camera (450 mm lens) made just for one scene, never to be used again? Amazing. It was majestically captured in mostly 70 mm I think, but the sets and locations are enough to rival the Lord of the Rings, so you know what's up. I did put this age higher than my rating of Lord of the Rings because of the dramatized action. Instead of the kind of meaningless fantasy action that you see in Tolkien (I don't think you could care less about them killing orcs), you find yourself getting upset and uncomfortable in the second half of the movie due to the relentless bloody violence, even if the blood looks like really bright paint. There's one scene in particular where they take no Turkish prisoners in one battle after you see them go through a town where the Turkish killed every last man, woman and child, and it's a very long sequence. The fighting takes a very large psychological toll on Lawrence that you don't see in other films. I really appreciate that, actually, because it's realistic, but it's realistic enough to make the violence more real and more of a hard topic. There are also several times that Lawrence has to kill a person he knows, which is a lot different from an orc or enemy. I still think kids could watch it though. The "no prisoners" scene is just up to parent discretion.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
age 6+

If there is only one film deserves to be described as Epic, it's Lawrence of Arabia!

First and foremost, this movie has way more humor than I ever thought it would have. From its very beginning, I was quite surprised by the amount of humor I found, not only because I didn't expect so, but also because it often works pretty well! Another great surprise I had watching this movie is that I didn't find it boring at all despite its nearly four-hours runtime. A long runtime alone doesn't make a movie bad or weak, but it certainly doesn't help. But I really think there is almost no second that David Lean has wasted in this textbook example of epic cinema. It's quite entertaining for plenty of reasons; two of them are the fascinating cinematography that treated my eyes with some of the most jaw-dropping images I've ever seen been captured on film, and the mind-bogglingly masterful editing that is easily also one of the best I've ever seen in film. Lawrence of Arabia is also surprisingly very simple despite its fiendishly complex portrait of the titular character. Actually it may be sometimes too simple for its own good, for I think the movie became superficial and shallow at the beginning of its second half for the sake of nothing but developing the character of Lawrence. There are some key events that should have been more focused on, but ended up being demonstrated comparatively quite fast and superficially. That made the second half a bit muddled, unlike the unbelievably perfect first half, but this wasn't much of an issue for me; because David Lean really make up for this simplicity by delivering a disturbing, terrifying, opulent, astute and utterly unique psychological profile of a heroic, yet flawed historical figure that is the protagonist, Lawrence. As for Peter O'Toole's performance, the only thing I could say is that I was quite mad for about the first half of the movie because how inaccurately serious-looking he appeared on the poster of the movie despite the fact he was rather good-natured, and looked quite charming. Of course, I realized that I was embarrassingly wrong when O'Toole gradually changed 100 percent to a very serious, and even seemingly mad man who struggles to find a balance in his life,nay, to discover his identity. I also want to say that I'm so so proud of Omar Sharif, who brought one of the most iconic secondary characters in the history of cinema! Alec Guinness was also terrific as Prince Faisal, although I still think he delivered his best performance in The Bridge on the River Kwai, another epic from Lean. Auda Abu Tayi is one of the most blatantly greedy characters I've seen in film, and it could have never been portrayed so convincingly by other than the great actor, Anthony Quinn. (9/10)

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9):
Kids say (16):

One of the great epics of the silver screen, this is a masterpiece of direction, photography, and acting, especially from O'Toole as the enigmatic British hero of the first World War. Movie buffs, patient teens, and their parents will enjoy settling in for almost four hours of cinematic magic. Lawrence of Arabia practically demands to be seen on the big screen. You certainly wouldn't want to watch it on a small TV: The Super Panavision widescreen format requires a particularly severe letterboxing. And even at that, it's hard to capture the impact of the famous moment when Lawrence stares at the seemingly endless desert horizon while a distant speck gradually becomes a human rider.

Lawrence does fall into some cliches, most notably as a White savior film that takes place within a Middle Eastern conflict but focuses on the heroics of a White man. But so spectacular is its cinematography and storytelling that most viewers are carried along despite a story that isn't as easy to follow now as it was in 1962, when audiences may have been more familiar with Lawrence's exploits. Similarly, the character of Lawrence will be difficult for children, as well as for many adults. He is depicted (and played brilliantly by O'Toole, in his first movie role) as a conflicted man, who was both repulsed and compelled by war and the role of a leader.

Movie Details

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