Lawrence of Arabia



Mature teens will appreciate this gripping epic.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: February 28, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1962
  • Running Time: 222 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite some vagueness about the historical background of the events depicted, the movie does inspire some understanding of and respect for Arab cultures.


Several of the battle scenes are intended to horrify viewers with the brutality of war. Lawrence is raped by Turkish captors in a scene that will appear to those unfamiliar with his life that he's merely being beaten.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a lavish and gripping movie, beautifully filmed, that commands your attention despite a length of nearly four hours, and a complex lead character. Although tame by modern standards, the battle scenes are still powerful, and could frighten some kids. Because of its complexity and length, this isn't a movie for young children. Mature teens will appreciate this gorgeous production.

What's the story?

This movie chronicles the World War I experiences of T. E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole). Early on, Lawrence gets transferred to Arabia, where he befriends Sherif Ali Ben El Kharish (Omar Sharif). At a time when the Arabs were rebelling against the Turks, Lawrence helps the Arabs. Dismissed by Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness) and his British superiors, Lawrence manages to unite Feisal's faction with that of Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn). After his success, the Allies use Lawrence in order to gain Arab cooperation against the Imperial Powers.

Is it any good?


One of the great epics of the silver screen, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is a masterpiece of direction, photography, and acting, especially from Peter 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. Most movies look better in theaters, but Lawrence of Arabia is one that 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 on video. 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 was filmed over a period of three years, under very difficult circumstances (cameras and blowing sand do not make a good match), but the results were worth it. So spectacular is the movie that most viewers are carried along despite a story that isn't as easy to follow now as it was in 1962, when audiences were 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 Peter 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. The character is a little easier to understand if you realize, as the filmmakers expected audiences to do but weren't able to directly express, that Lawrence was also homosexual.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about and research together the historical basis for the movie.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 16, 1962
DVD release date:January 1, 1999
Cast:Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Peter O'Toole
Director:David Lean
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Topics:Adventures, History
Run time:222 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008

a hero!

Lawrence is extremely brave and tries to do what's right, no matter what the cost.
Teen, 13 years old Written byFilmFanJ June 9, 2012

Lawrence of Arabia Review

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byBestPicture1996 October 9, 2012

Truly one of cinema's grandest pictures

The fact that this is a legendary movie doesn't make it that much easier to get through (four hours is too long to sit in for anything) but it does make it better to appreciate its stature. I had the good fortune to catch a screening of it in theaters, and this really is the only way to view it. The majestic desert scenes beg to be seen on the big screen, and O'Toole and his piercing eyes are even better viewed in a dark theater. I'd advise kids to wait til they're older to watch it. They may not still get all the war references, but they'll understand the film's literal awesomeness better than a pre-teen would.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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