You Can Rent This 1962 Epic, But Should Really See it On The Big Screen

Usually movie nights on Giz are where we suggest something you can stream from the comfort of your home, like, right now. So yes: Technically, you can rent Lawrence of Arabia and queue it up this eve while you watch from the sofa. I won't tell you not to do that. But consider this post a kind of heads-up: If the 1962 epic ever makes it to a theater near you: GO.

I went to see the film at San Francisco's historic Castro Theater over the weekend, and absolutely cannot stop thinking about it. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, besides—obviously—a highly lauded classic from cinema's Golden Age. Oh wowie wow wow. It blew my damn mind.

The biographical tale tells the story of British Army officer T.E. Lawrence—a real guy—and his complex involvement in the Arab Revolt of 1916 in the midst of World War I, as viewed via the piercing blue eyes of the dashing Peter O'Toole, whose gangly frame and lanky gait belies an ever-burning inner strength and unflappable charisma that made him a hero to some and a conundrum to others.

There are no women in this film. It runs almost four hours, with an intermission built in. There are desert scenes that will honest-to-goodness take your breath away with their breadth and beauty. The swelling score by Marice Jarre is appropriately dramatic and equally memorable.

The movie was Restored in 4K for the 50th anniversary in 2012, and seems like one that will forever pop up from time to time on the big screen. (There are some times that this heightened resolution is almost too clear—viewers can definitely spot a few fake noses and heavy make-up on main characters, and there is a lot of male eyeliner that was likely not visible in the original showings.)

In his four-star review of the film over a decade ago, Roger Ebert wrote: "I've noticed that when people remember Lawrence of Arabia, they don't talk about the details of the plot. They get a certain look in their eye, as if they are remembering the whole experience, and have never quite been able to put it into words." Yup. Yes. This, this, this, times a million. There's something so incomprehensibly massive about the production, that it's all but impossible to be blown away like so many sands on the desert vistas that seem to never end. [Google Play]