[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lawrence_of_arabia_1962_poster.jpg]]

-> '''Jackson Bentley:''' What is it, Major Lawrence, that attracts you personally to the desert?\\
'''T.E. Lawrence:''' It's clean.

''Lawrence of Arabia'' is a [[EpicMovie historical epic film]] directed by Creator/DavidLean, about British officer T.E. Lawrence's activities leading the Arab revolt against the Turks during UsefulNotes/WorldWarI.

Producer Sam Spiegel bought the rights to Lawrence's own 1922 account of his experiences in the Middle East, ''The Seven Pillars of Wisdom'', for Lean (who had previously helmed the Spiegel-produced ''Film/TheBridgeOnTheRiverKwai'' to great success) to direct. ''Lawrence'' took two years to make, in locations like Jordan, Morocco and Spain. When finally released in 1962, it won a ton of awards including the UsefulNotes/AcademyAward for Best Picture, and remains highly-regarded by most critics decades later. The movie is intelligently written and well-acted, although some critics have issues with the historical accuracy. On a visual note, it contains some absolutely beautiful desert scenery, and Creator/PeterOToole is terribly pretty in the title role.

[[ExecutiveMeddling The film was twice subjected to major cuts]], being reduced from an initial 222 minute length to as short as 187 minutes by the early '70s. Much of the missing footage was misplaced by Columbia Pictures until the 1989 restoration (216 minutes). David Lean approved of the first round of cuts, but later blamed them on Sam Spiegel. In 2012, the film was re-released in limited quantities both to celebrate its 50th anniversary and to show off a new screen technology known as Ultra-High Definition resolution.

Famously one of the all-time favorite films of Creator/StevenSpielberg--he counts the legendary MatchCut as being one of the seminal inspirations for him taking up filmmaking as a career. He eagerly spearheaded a restoration of the film for DVD, with the assistance of Creator/MartinScorsese.

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!!Contains examples of:

* AdvertisedExtra: Original posters, trailers and TV spots highlighted (among others in the EnsembleCast) Oscar-winner Jose Ferrer playing the Turkish Bey. This even though Ferrer had about four minutes of total screen time (though [[OneSceneWonder admittedly]] [[RapeAsDrama a very memorable scene]]).
* AffablyEvil: Dryden. Charming, soft-spoken and cultured, while [[TheChessmaster cheerfully manipulating everyone around him]].
* TheAlliance: And collecting the various FeudingFamilies to form this is a large part of the movie.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Lawrence. In real life, his relations with his male "companions" were (and are) considered very suspect.
** Real life speculation about Lawrence's sexuality seems to oscillate between two extremes: he was either entirely [[{{Asexuality}} asexual]], or a masochistic gay man.
** The GirlySkirtTwirl (see below) isn't very subtle.
** Then there's Ali talking about his feelings. "If I fear him, who love him, how must he fear himself who hates himself?"
** David Lean confirmed this: "Yes. Of course it is. Throughout. Lawrence was very, if not entirely, homosexual. We thought we were being very daring at the time: Lawrence and Omar, Lawrence and the Arab boys."
** Daud and Farraj have an almost romantic devotion to each other. This part of their characterization could have been drawn from T.E. Lawrence's ''Seven Pillars of Wisdom'', in which they were described as a same-sex couple.
* AndStarring: The opening credits have "and Donald Wolfit, With Omar Sharif as Ali," and "Introducing Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence". The film cemented the international reputation of the previously little-known Sharif (famous in the Middle East but not elsewhere) and O'Toole (previously a stage actor first and foremost). Wolfit, meanwhile, was an established actor (and mentor to O'Toole) but had only a minor role in the film.
* AnswerCut: "I wonder where they are now?" Cut to aftermath of Turkish massacre.
* AntiHero: Over the course of the film Lawrence becomes this, sliding right down the scale from straightforward hero to NominalHero or at best UnscrupulousHero.
* AntiVillain: Allenby's somewhere between this and PunchClockVillain. He's clearly uncomfortable with some of the actions he's forced to take, assuaging his conscience with protests that he's JustFollowingOrders. Though in fairness, as a general he's not in much position to protest. {{Lampshaded}} late in the film:
--> '''Dryden:''' Do you think it was worth it?
--> '''Allenby:''' Not my business. Thank God I'm a soldier.
--> '''Dryden:''' Yes, sir. So you keep saying.
* ArchEnemy: General George Allenby, the Turkish Bey, and Mr. Dryden to T.E. Lawrence.
* ArmchairMilitary: Played with by British command promoting and supplying Lawrence once his tactics prove effective.
* AtLeastIAdmitIt: Dryden chides Lawrence for expressing disgust at the Sykes-Picot Treaty, which divides the post-war Middle East between Britain and France:
-->"If we've told lies, you've told half-lies. And the man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But the man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he's put it."
* BadassBoast: Auda abu Tayi gets a doozy.
--> "I carry twenty-three great wounds all got in battle. Seventy-five I have killed with my own hands in battle. I scatter, I burn my enemy's tents. I take away their flocks and herds. The Turks pay me a golden treasure, yet *I* am poor. Because I am a river to my people!"
* BadassBookworm: Lawrence, whose knowledge of the area makes him more effective at his job than his comrades.
--> "'I cannot fiddle, but I can make a great state from a little city.' - Thermistocles"
* BadassBureaucrat: Lawrence starts off as this.
* BattleButler: Farraj and Daud, Lawrence's [[ThoseTwoGuys two servants]]
* BedouinRescueService: Subverted, in that Sherif Ali kills Lawrence's guide but offers to bring Lawrence to Prince Feisal so he will not be lost in the desert. And then Lawrence refuses, getting himself safely to Wadi Safra and the Prince.
* BerserkerTears: Lawrence sheds these during battle as he gives in to the chaos.
* BigGood: Feisal to the Arab revolt.
* BittersweetEnding / DownerEnding: [[spoiler: Even though Lawrence succeeded in reaching and taking Damascus with his Arab calvary, Lawrence is unsuccessful in uniting the Arab tribes as a united people, and heads home, depressed and unable to feel joy again. Oh, and he dies years later in a motorcycle crash (as shown in the beginning).]]
* BladeReflection: Lawrence uses his dagger blade as an impromptu mirror to check out how he looks in his snazzy new white robes. This was Peter O'Toole's idea.
* BlasphemousBoast:.
** When Lawrence is leaving at night, taking 50 men with him to conquer Aqaba:
---> '''Faisal''': And where are you going, lieutenant, with 50 of my men?
---> '''Lawrence''': To work your miracle.
---> '''Faisal''': Blasphemy is a bad beginning for such a journey.
** After taking Aqaba, Lawrence is confident that he can cross the Sinai desert safely and inform his superiors about the siege. He compares himself to Moses, which offends Auda.
---> '''Auda''': In ten days you will cross Sinai?
---> '''Lawrence''': Why not? Moses did.
---> '''Auda''': Moses was a prophet and beloved of God!
* BloodKnight: Lawrence's expressed aversion to violence is in fact an effort to suppress this part of his personality. At a meeting with Allenby Lawrence tells about having to execute a murderer in his army. Allenby expresses sympathy, but Lawrence explains the real problem.
--> "I enjoyed it."
* BookEnds: The film begins with Lawrence's death in a reckless motorcycle accident. The rest of the film, which is told in flashback, ends with Lawrence being driven along a road in a jeep, while a man on a motorcycle speeds by and recklessly passes him.
* BornInTheWrongCentury: Feisal wishes he were alive in Medieval Cordoba.
* BreakTheCutie: The movie is one long string of personal tragedies for Lawrence, as he watches his friends die and does various things that he does not enjoy. And more tragically still, things he wishes he didn't enjoy.
* BrickJoke: "You, sir! I'd like to shake your hand!" Which he remembers proudly while criticising Bentley for describing Lawrence as "the biggest showoff since Barnum and Bailey" as they both leave his funeral at the beginning of the film... unaware that the same man he was so proud to have met was the one he slapped across the face while yelling a racial epithet after discovering him upon arrival at a filthy, underequipped hospital.
* {{Brownface}}: Alec Guiness, an English actor, plays Prince Feisal, an Arab.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Lawrence.
* CelibateEccentricGenius: Celibate BunnyEarsLawyer BadassBookworm.
* CelibateHero: Lawrence, being an [[TheEdwardianEra Edwardian]] British upper-classman.
* CharacterDevelopment: Lawrence obviously, though in fits and starts. Sherif Ali and Colonel Brighton both undergo significant arcs through the story as well.
* TheChessmaster: Allenby and Feisal spend as much time plotting against each other as fighting the Turks.
* ChromosomeCasting: All of the named characters are men. In fact, there aren't any female speaking parts.
* ColonelBadass: Lawrence is a Lieutenant Colonel.
* ComfortingComforter: Sherif Ali tucks Lawrence in on a couple of occasions.
* CompositeCharacter: Sherif Ali (Ali ibn el-Kharish) was clearly based on Ali ibn el Hussein, the brother of Faisal, but was stripped of his royal identity and made a generic tribal leader.
** Many of the British officers are also composite characters, as well as Dryden.
* ConflictingLoyalty: Lawrence is caught between loyalty to his country and the Arab Revolt. In fact he talked much of this in RealLife, though when you think of it, it is inevitable in any officer seconded to an allied force. But in any case it is considerably dramatized here.
* ConsummateLiar: Lampshaded to an extent when Dryden responds to Lawrence's outburst that "There may be honour among thieves, but there is none among polititians!" by noting, "If we've told lies, you've told half-lies. And the man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But the man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it."
* CoolHorse: Auda Abu Tayi's favorite part of the {{Plunder}}, when they seize a Turkish train and he comes away with a handsome white horse.
* CrazyEnoughToWork: Lawrence invokes this when planning his raid on Aqaba.
-->"If fifty men rode out of the Nefoud, they would be fifty men other men might join."
* CreatorCameo: Creator/DavidLean voices the motorcyclist who asks Lawrence "Who are you?" at the Suez Canal. Creator/RobertBolt plays one of the officers (smoking a pipe) watching Lawrence's first conference with Allenby.
* CrossingTheDesert: Happens at least once, naturally, first when joining Prince Faisal with the guide, then crossing the Nefud with the rest of Faisal's squad, then going back in Nefud to find his lost servant. Also doubles as a ThirstyDesert.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Lawrence is viewed to be eccentric and insubordinate in Cairo, so much that the commanding general openly treats him with contempt. All that changes when he gets to Arabia.
* CunningLinguist: Lawrence learned Arabic during archaeological digs in the Levant before the Great War, and apparently went native to some extent.
* DarkIsNotEvil: Sheriff Ali wears black robes to contrast our hero's white robes and khaki uniforms, but he's a loyal friend.
* DatedHistory: Besides the HollywoodHistory below, the depiction of Lawrence as a sadist who enjoys killing can be traced to several critical Lawrence biographies (by Richard Aldington and Anthony Nutting) written shortly before the movie's release, something which most modern historians discount. Not coincidentally, Nutting served as an advisor to the filmmakers. On the other hand, showing him as a masochist who liked ''receiving'' pain [[VindicatedByHistory has become widely accepted]].
* DeathFromAbove: Lawrence and Ali witness this from afar.
-->'''Ali''': God pity the men under those guns.
-->'''Lawrence''': They're Turks.
-->'''Ali''': Even so, God pity them.
* DeadHatShot: The goggles hanging from the bush early on, signifying Lawrence's death in the motorcycle accident.
* DepravedHomosexual: Lawrence is arrested by a Turkish general who picks him from a line-up of other young men. He immediately starts pawing Lawrence and remarking on his attractive face, skin and eyes. Lawrence realizes what's going on and kicks the general in the groin, after which Lawrence is brutally beaten as the Bey watches. This scene corresponds to a chapter of the real Lawrence's memoir ''Seven Pillars of Wisdom'', where he explicitly recounts being gang raped. Lawrence himself was gay and that's abundantly clear in the book, but this scene was the only one the filmmakers chose to include... so it definitely fits the trope.
* DespairEventHorizon: Lawrence crosses it following Daraa, becoming more broken and bitter.
* DontSaySuchStupidThings: There is an interesting version of the trope. "All right, all right, I am exceptional."
* {{Dramatization}}: It's based on history, but they took some liberties for dramatic effect.
* EpicMovie: One of the most famous examples, though in many ways it's also a [[UnbuiltTrope Deconstruction]], in that the film proves that one person, no matter how remarkable or adventurous cannot truly be bigger than his surroundings, time and place. The opening scene which shows many of Lawrence's friends and associates discussing him second hand and without feeling implies that the actions which seemed so significant to Lawrence and newspaper readers at the time had by [[ButForMeItWasTuesday 1936 become yesterday's news in the context of England and the world]].
* EternalSexualFreedom: Subverted. Lawrence is ashamed that he's a bastard (his father didn't marry his mother) and tries to conceal it, and his Arab friend is clearly initially uncomfortable with it.
* EverythingsLouderWithBagpipes: Bagpipes are played when the English army moves towards Damascus.
* AFatherToHisMen: Lawrence impresses the men under his command when he makes a dangerous trek back into the desert to save a straggler.
* FeudingFamilies: Major source of problems amongst Arab tribes throughout the film.
* TheFilmOfTheBook: A loose adaptation of Lawrence's memoir ''Seven Pillars of Wisdom''.
* FinaleTitleDrop: The title "Lawrence of Arabia" is never spoken in the film but it appears as a headline in the newspaper towards the end.
* FloweryInsults: A spare but pointy exchange:
-->'''Auda abu Tayi''': Harith! Ali, does your father still steal?
-->'''Sherif Ali''': No. Does Auda take me for one of his own bastards?
-->'''Auda abu Tayi''': No, there is no resemblance. Alas, you resemble your father.
-->'''Sherif Ali''': Auda flatters me.
-->'''Auda abu Tayi''': You're easily flattered. I knew your father well.
-->'''Sherif Ali''': Did you know your own?
%%* ForegoneConclusion: see more specific subtrope StartsWithTheirFuneral
* ForgottenFallenFriend: Lawrence's guide, whom he thinks of as a friend. He becomes friends with Ali, the man who killed him, quite quickly.
* FutileHandReach: Lawrence does this towards one of his companions, who just sank into quicksand.
* GeneralFailure: General Murray, Lawrence's initial commander. After hearing Murray's relieved of command, Lawrence remarks "That's a step in the right direction!"
* GenreDeconstruction: The film is often cited as the archetypal EpicMovie, even though it largely subverts the genre's conventions. The hero isn't an upright, masculine strongman but a neurotic, AmbiguouslyGay genius; there's no love interest (unless you count Sherif Ali); the elements (namely the desert), and the hero's own commanding officers, are more of an obstacle than the enemy; the Arabs have their own ambitions which often run counter to Lawrence's. Even the battle scenes are marginalized, David Lean preferring SceneryPorn over bloodshed. It culminates in a DownerEnding where the protagonist gives in to mindless killing, the Arabs collapse, the British take over, and Lawrence can't even claim a moral victory).
* GirlySkirtTwirl: A pretty rare example of this trope being played straight with a male character. Lawrence does this after he is given Arab-style robes to replace his British Army khakis.
* GoingNative: DiscussedTrope, when Lawrence's superiors wonder if he is. Lawrence is seriously tempted to do this, and he tries to do this but eventually realizes that he can't truly go native and abandon England. His friends and colleagues in the Arab Revolt fluctuate between seeing him as an English adventurer GloryHound (Prince Feisal at first, Auda Abu Tayi later) and a genuine Arab sympathizer, who however cannot truly commit to the revolt because of his position and personal character.
* GoryDiscretionShot: Auda beheading a Turkish soldier during the first train attack.
* GreyAndGrayMorality: No side comes off looking particularly good in this film, and all of the characters have varying degrees of moral ambiguity.
* GuileHero: Lawrence.
* HeelFaceTurn: Brighton goes from stuffy martinet to admirer of Lawrence after the latter captures Aqaba. He's pushed even further during the Damascus scene, as he urges Allenby to help the Arabs (and is callously ignored).
* HeroicBastard: Lawrence. Literally, as he's a formidable soldier whose biological parents were not married.
* HeroicBSOD: Lawrence has one after he's unable to save Daud from quicksand. After his disastrous foray into Daraa, he crosses the DespairEventHorizon.
* HeWillNotCrySoICryForHim: Lawrence and his Arab followers have succeeded in defeating the Turks, but their own internal squabbles have doomed any attempt at forming a united post-independence government before it began, leaving Lawrence broken and disillusioned. Sherif Ali, witnessing the defeated Lawrence, begins weeping, and when confronted by Auda abu Tayi over why he weeps for a man he claims to fear rather than love, he replies, "Because if I fear him who love him, how must he fear himself who hates himself?"
* HistoricalBadassUpgrade: The film portrays the Arab Revolts successes as being almost entirely Lawrence's creation and ignores how there were other many British officers who played just as much a major role as he did in expelling the Ottomans from the Arabic speaking regions including Allenby. On top of that the film also neglected just how much of a role the Arab tribal leaders played in the role in planning military acts and commanding in the battlefield and credits all military brilliance the Arab guerrillas did to his leadership.
* HistoricalBeautyUpdate: Not that the real Lawrence was hideous or anything, but he was fairly homely especially compared to the frankly gorgeous Peter O'Toole.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: The film's treatment of General Edmund Allenby drew considerable criticism. The real Allenby was a skilled general who was friendly with Lawrence and much more sympathetic to the Arabs than the film suggests. For instance, he served as Egypt's High Commissioner in the early '20s and threatened to resign if London didn't grant Egypt independence. In the movie he's equal parts ArmchairMilitary and ManipulativeBastard who hides behind his military duties to excuse his actions. Creator/RobertBolt wrote that he respected Allenby and tried to make him a sympathetic character, but it's not really evident in the finished movie.
* HitAndRunTactics: This is how the Turks are fought.
-->'''Lawrence''': "We can cross Arabia while Johnny Turk is still turning around. I'll smash his railways. And while he's fixing them I'll smash them somewhere else."
* HollywoodDarkness: It's obvious by the shadows cast in the sand that all nightly desert scenes were shot during day time.
* HollywoodHistory: A very, VERY reliable source for it.
** The British general staff and Lawrence were on overwhelmingly good terms save for a few exceptions. Lawrence was, however, quite contemptuous of the military rank-and-file and their strategic objectives (he saw it as his aim to subvert the Sykes-Picot agreement which wanted to divvy up Syria instead of creating an Arab state). Secondly, the taking of Aqaba was not a glorious cavalry charge into the town but a prolonged melee for a pillbox a few miles outside of town. Thirdly, the relations with the Saudi-dominated Najd are almost completely ignored when in fact they were a crucial part of diplomacy Lawrence was involved in. And this is before we get into the issue of who exactly liberated Damascus (Western Allies or Arab rebels), which is [[SeriousBusiness STILL a matter of pride that is fiercely contested to this day.]] The screenwriter, Robert Bolt, based the movie off of Lawrence's memoirs because there were too many conflicting sources; the accuracy of his writings has been brought under serious scrutiny by recent historians.
** In keeping with [[CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkeys the Hollywood attitude of the time]], Capitaine Rosario Pisani and other UsefulNotes/GaulsWithGrenades, such as the adjudant Lamotte, who rode the 1000 km to Aqaba with Lawrence, are not even mentioned. To be fair, Pisani wrote only 60 pages about his mission, mostly still classified, compared to the 800 public pages of the ''Seven Pillars of Wisdom'', and the {{Foil}} of most French soldiers compared to the Arabs was not as large as the one with Lawrence, since they mostly grew up and learnt to fight in Maghreb with Arabs and against Arabs.
** Perhaps the biggest (and to some, most insulting) alteration is the ending, which shows Feisal's "Arab Council" collapsing from in-fighting, Damascus degenerating into chaos, and the British (after having refused to help Feisal) taking over. While there was tension and occasional violence between the different Arab factions (mostly between Feisal's Bedouin and the Damascus-based "city Arabs"), it didn't cause Feisal's government to disintegrate. In fact, Feisal's kingdom lasted through 1921, when the French army invaded Syria. Also, the Turks and their German allies destroyed much of Damascus while evacuating - a more proximate cause for the chaos than Arab incompetence. Neither did Allenby refuse to help Feisal, a depiction [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade the General's family bitterly resented]].
* IJustWantToBeSpecial: Larence at first but later turns into IJustWantToBeNormal.
* IconicOutfit: Lawrence's lovely white Arab clothes are ''the'' outfit for any hero crossing the desert. Granted, that's the practical outfit for crossing the desert, but ''still''.
* ImpassableDesert: Invoked with the Nefud. "It cannot be crossed!" Yes, it can.
* InnocentBlueEyes[=/=]IcyBlueEyes: O'Toole's eyes almost seem to shift with his character. At the beginning of the film they seem to fit with his naiveté but as the film progresses they start to look much colder.
* InJoke: Lean uses a Kenneth J. Alford march, ''The Voice of the Guns'' as a leitmotif for the British Army. A [[ColonelBogeyMarch more famous Alford tune]] was the theme song of [[Film/TheBridgeOnTheRiverKwai his previous movie]].
* {{Intermission}}: It's long enough to need one.
* IntrepidReporter: Mr. Bentley, who goes on campaigns through the desert with Lawrence.
* ItsAllAboutMe: How Lawrence sees the Arab Revolt to some extent; Faisal calls him on this right away.
* JediTruth: Brought up around midway through the film:
--> "If we've told lies, you've told half-lies. [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech And a man who lies only hides the truth]], [[InsaneTrollLogic but a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it]]!"
* JerkassHasAPoint: General Murray, who is depicted to be a blowhard and a GeneralFailure, especially compared to his replacement Allenby asks Dreiden:
-->"Does the Arab Bureau want a big thing in Arabia? If they(the Bedu) ride against the Turks does the Bureau think they're going to sit quietly under us when this war is over?"
* JudgmentOfSolomon: An Arab warrior from one tribe murders one from another. For the murderer not to be executed would shame the wronged tribe; For the wronged tribe to execute the murderer would simply escalate the CycleOfRevenge. To fend off the dispute, Lawrence, to his distaste, personally carries out the execution because he has no local connections and therefore no one can take offense.
* JustFollowingOrders: General Allenby's fallback excuse:
-->'''Dryden:''' You give them artillery and you've made them independent.\\
'''Allenby:''' Then I can't give them artillery, can I?\\
'''Dryden:''' For you to say, sir.\\
'''Allenby:''' No, it's not. I've got orders to obey, thank God. Not like that poor devil. He's riding the whirlwind.\\
'''Dryden:''' Let's hope we're not.
* KillTheCutie: The sprightly teenage orphans Daud and Farraj accompany Lawrence in his adventures, only for Daud to be lost to [[QuicksandSucks quicksand]], and Farraj is mortally wounded by enemy fire and [[MercyKill mercy-killed]] by Lawrence.
* TheLancer: Sherif Ali (played by Omar Sharif).
* LargeHam:
** ''Lawrence'' was Peter O'Toole's first starring role, and he'd mostly done stage work up until then. As a result, his performance was a little...outsized. Subverted by the fact that Lawrence, as portrayed in the film, pretty much exemplified this trope as well. Of course, the stage doesn't get any bigger than a vast desert.
** Anthony Quinn is hammy as Auda. He roars around like a big child, and at one point he walks across a table to yell at someone. And Jose Ferrer shows up for a whole scene to be a big, creepy, creepy ham.
* LastBreathBullet: One soldier during the train attack fires his gun at Lawrence with his last strength. He can only wound him though before getting beheaded.
* LaughingMad: Lawrence. Oh, Lawrence.
* LeaveNoSurvivors: "[[RoaringRampageOfRevenge NO PRISONERS!]]" Directed at a column that had just [[RapePillageAndBurn slaughtered some villagers]].
* LeaveTheCameraRunning: The film features many long shots of majestic landscapes set to soaring music. It's been said you can tell a person's age by whether they're enthralled or bored out of their mind.
* LifeWillKillYou: After all his dangerous adventures, Lawrence dies in a road accident on his motorcycle. At the beginning of the film, no less. However, this was a DeadlyDistantFinale, occurring many years after he retired.
* LovableRogue:
** Auda abu Tayi.
** Also, to a lesser extent, Lawrence and Daud/Farraj.
* MachoMasochism: Less flashy example when Lawrence pinches out a burning match.
-->"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts. "
* MagneticHero: Lawrence. Ali and Auda both are both good examples, as well.
* MajorlyAwesome: Lawrence is promoted from lieutenant to major in charge of leading the Arab guerilla forces against the Turks after successfully taking Turkish-held Aqaba
* MaleGaze: This film is a rare instance of it being exclusively directed on other men. For instance the scene where Ali walks into the tent has a long slow pan up his body from Lawrence's point of view. This is a shot normally used to indicate that the character in question is a love interest (in his essay on the film Creator/MartinScorsese pointed out that in FilmNoir the FemmeFatale is often introduced like this). [[HomoeroticSubtext Make of that what you will]]. Also the scene where Lawrence is stripped and beaten by the Turkish soldiers has a lot of lingering shots of half naked Peter O'Toole.
* ManInWhite: When Lawrence starts GoingNative, he begins wearing a white robe and keffiyeh in the Bedouin style.
* ManipulativeBastard: Twice Lawrence returns from the desert emotionally shattered and requesting reassignment. Twice Allenby persuades Lawrence to go back.
* MatchCut: A particularly famous (and literal) one, when Lawrence blows out a match, cutting to the sun rising over the Arabian desert.
* MeaningfulEcho:
** Early in the film, Lawrence's Bedouin guide is shot by a man from another tribe (Sherif Ali), for drinking from his well. Angry, Lawrence yells at his retreating back, "So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people; greedy, barbarous and cruel, as you are." Later in the second half of the film, Lawrence's men slaughter a unit of Turks in revenge-fueled lust (in which Lawrence himself snaps and kills at least two dozen Turks himself). Later, when Mr. Bentley arrives at the scene, stunned, Sherif Ali essentially parrots what Lawrence had said to him before:
---> "Does it surprise you, Mr Bentley? Surely, you know the Arabs are a barbarous people. Barbarous and cruel. Who but they! Who but they!"
** "Nothing is written!" and several variants are repeated throughout the film.
** Lawrence admiring himself in the blade of his dagger, just after Ali presents him with his Arab robes. Much later, Lawrence repeats the gesture during the final massacre.
* MemeticBadass: Lawrence, in-universe;
--> "Don't you know I can only be killed with a golden bullet?"
* MercyKill: The Arabs kill most of their wounded so the Turks don't get them.
* MightyWhitey: Deconstructed. At first it's played straight; Lawrence impresses the Arabs and is made one of their leaders. However it gradually becomes apparent that Lawrence doesn't ''really'' understand their culture, their motivations, or their problems, nor does he fully want to. He vastly overrates his own abilities to inspire and unite them, often conducts actions that compromise and complicate the moderate elements within the Revolt (Sheriff Ali) and in the end perhaps sabotaged their cause by unrealistic expectations and promises that, regardless of his sincerity, was beyond his minor position to deliver and uphold. Lawrence's attempts to play this trope straight are summed up in one scene:
-->'''Colonel Brighton:''' They think he's a kind of prophet.
-->'''General Allenby:''' They do, or ''he'' does?
* MissionBriefing: Played with. Some scenes are played straight, like Lawrence's first scene with General Murray and Mr. Dryden ("What is the job?" "Find Prince Feisal."). Others are used more to develop Lawrence's character than to advance the plot, like his first meeting with General Allenby, where they spend a minute or so discussing strategy and the rest of the scene discussing the campaign's effect on Lawrence.
* MissionCreep: Lawrence's overall mission is to recruit the tribes to fight against the Ottoman Turks. To achieve this mission, he decides to help feuding and warring tribes get together to fight for a bigger cause, accidentally helping Prince Feisal to trigger Arab nationalism with promises to help them independence, neither of which was ever in his ability to promise and deliver, and in the case of independence, never something [[ILied the English, and the French, were going to give the Arabs anyway]]. This realization that he had overreached and extended his abilities and directive makes Lawrence increasingly reckless and self-destructive near the end.
* MoodWhiplash: The first half is an epic adventure film which climaxes in a triumphant battle scene, Lawrence's promotion and Allenby promising to help the Arabs. The second half becomes increasingly downbeat, showing how deluded Lawrence is about his role and function in the Arab Revolt, and the crushing of the Arabs' dreams of independence in the face of British imperialism.
* {{Mooks}}: Ottoman Turkish soldiers. They drop like flies in just about every altercation.
* MrFanservice: Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole (somewhat averted by the latter's aversion to sex).
* MurderIsTheBestSolution: Lawrence has to execute an Arab who murdered a member of another tribe, in order to avoid an all-out war among the Arabs.
* NiceHat: Lawrence's turban. At one point, General Allenby is fascinated enough by it to consider trying it on, but then relents, saying it looks better on Lawrence.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Jackson Bentley is an obvious stand-in for Lowell Thomas, the American journalist who made Lawrence famous. Given that Thomas was still alive at the time (and the problems they ran into with the families of others depicted in the film), the name change was legally expedient.
* NoHuggingNoKissing: As expected given the ChromosomeCasting.
* NoOneGetsLeftBehind:
** Lawrence going after one of his men stranded in desert. Managing to save him. Inverted possibly by being forced to execute him.
** Subverted in another instance. Lawrence's [[BattleButler servant]] has to be given a MercyKill because it is impossible ''not'' to leave him behind.
* NoWomansLand: It is a UsefulNotes/WorldWarI movie, but still - no women are shown on screen, except for a handful of veiled extras here and there, and some nurses. There are no women with speaking roles. (Ululating doesn't count.)
* NonAnswer: Lampshaded:
--> '''Jackson Bentley:''' You gonna be a democracy in this country? You gonna have a parliament?\\
'''Sherif Ali:''' I will tell you that when I have a country. [Brief pause] Did I answer well?\\
'''Jackson Bentley:''' You answered without saying anything. That's politics.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent:
** Sir Creator/AlecGuinness as the Arab Prince Feisal.
** In the DVD making of documentary it stated he was actually copying co-star Omar Sharif's real refined Egyptian accent.[[note]]The reason the accent sounds so British is that Egyptians of Sharif's class and generation typically learned English quite young at British schools. Sharif himself, being the scion of a well-to-do family, attended Victoria College, Alexandria, which was expressly intended to be a sort of [[UsefulNotes/BritishEducationSystem Eton]] of the Middle East and was staffed by British teachers.[[/note]]
** Anthony Quinn and Jose Ferrer play their characters (Arab and Turkish, respectively) with their natural, Hispanic-inflected[[note]] Quinn being Mexican-Irish, Ferrer Puerto Rican[[/note]] voices, yet rarely draw the same comments as Guinness. Possibly a case of AsLongAsItSoundsForeign?
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Lawrence seems to play up his eccentricity in Cairo, to the point where the other officers have no awareness of his expertise.
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: Lawrence and the Arabs cut down surrendering Turks [[BlackAndGreyMorality in retaliation for their own massacre of the village of Tafas]]. One of the relatively rare scenes in film where the perpetrators are meant to still meant to retain some sympathy, and it also shows just how much of a toll the war has taken on Lawrence.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Allenby, who is shown scheming and plotting behind the Arabs' (and Lawrence's) backs. Some say this is HistoricalVillainUpgrade.
* OccupiersOutOfOurCountry: The Arabs want to not be ruled over by Turks anymore. As Lawrence puts it:
-->'''Bentley''': What, in your opinion, do these people hope to gain from this war?\\
'''Lawrence''': They hope to gain their freedom.\\
'''Bentley''': ''[blank stare]''\\
'''Lawrence''': Freedom.\\
'''Bentley''': "They hope to gain their freedom." There's one born every minute.\\
'''Lawrence''': They're going to get it, Mr. Bentley. I'm going to give it to them.
** It doesn't work out, of course. The British and French imperialists [[SarcasmMode shockingly]] renege on their promises to the Arabs and the Arabs themselves [[WeAREStrugglingTogether ultimately fail to overcome their tribal differences]]. By the end of the movie, [[FullCircleRevolution the Arabs have simply traded their old Turkish overlords for new British and French ones]].
* OneLinerNameOneliner: Mr. Bentley to Dryden at some point: "Walk away, Dryden, walk away."
* OneWomanWail:
** Appears in-universe and to chilling effect (though there was more than one woman performing it) while the Harif army is setting out to cross the Nefud and attack Al-aquaba. The shot from the top of the cliff with the mourning women drowning out the stirring battle songs from below.
** It's called "ululation", which is different from a wail and could also be interpreted as the women giving the men an encouraging send off.
** That's what it is when Native American women do it (well, that and to scare the enemy). Lakotah holy man Black Elk refers to it as the "tremolo". It's also a way of showing respect or honor and is done in many other world cultures.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: The killing of the Turkish soldiers responsible for the Tafas massacre.
* {{Plunder}}: The sack of Aqaba. Also the ambushed Turkish train.
* {{Prelap}}: The sound of a train whistle is heard over the end of the previous scene. The UrExample and TropeMaker.
* {{Pride}}: If Lawrence has one flaw it is his belief that he and his army are untouchable and can do anything. For a long time he is right, until he reaches Daraa.
* PromotionNotPunishment: When Lawrence returns from Aquaba, the British General points out that he acted without orders only to then promote him Major.
* ProphecyTwist: Gasim gets lost in the desert. The Arab army refuses to go after him because "it is written", at which point Lawrence says "Nothing is written" and goes into the desert alone to rescue him. A few days later, Gasim kills a man from another tribe and Lawrence is forced to execute him to prevent a feud. The head of the tribe asks why Lawrence looks so distraught. When someone mentions Lawrence had saved Gasim's life just days earlier, he nods and says, "So it was written, then."
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: "I. Don't. Want. To be. Part. Of your. BIG. PUSH!"
* QuicksandSucks: Quicksand shows up in the desert, swallowing a servant in moments. Easy to write off as ArtisticLicenseGeology, but its [[OlderThanTheyThink mentioned in the folklore]] of many desert cultures, and its recently been discovered that may be for good reason: [[TruthInTelevision Dry quicksand exists]] and behaves ''more'' like hollywood quicksand than the liquid variety.[[note]][[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_quicksand The other wiki has an article]], but basically, it seems to be caused by the normally tightly packed structure of sand being slightly looser than normal- perhaps by a drift of powder sand being blown lightly into the gap between several dune ridges. This creates a large, precariously stacked pile of sand grains and trapped air that otherwise looks like completely normal sand. Cue a caravan. In one experiment a weighted ping pong ball sank into dry quicksand to a depth of several inches almost immediately,accompanied by a "straight jet of sand [shooting] violently into the air after about 100 milliseconds".[[/note]] Its also worth mentioning that the wet form of quicksand forms in deserts, too. [[note]]It takes a large, long-lived, reliable spring to form anything vaguely resembling a greenery-circled open pool- a weak or unreliable spring may simply form a small patch of quicksand when conditions are right.[[/note]]
* RaceLift: Prince Feisal is played by the White British Sir Alec Guinness.
* RapeAsDrama: Lawrence and the Turkish Bey. More like a beating/"implied rape as drama", but still disturbing.
* RatedMForManly: A movie about Bedouin riding around on {{Cool Horse}}s in scorching deserts, killing large numbers of Turkish soldiers.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Faisal, who is much more willing to play politics than the idealistic Lawrence.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: The Turkish Bey utters the line, "Two years I have been posted to Dera. If I had been stationed on the dark side of the moon I could not have been more isolated."
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeBureaucratized: The Arab National Council that forms after the occupation of Damascus exemplifies this trope. The tribesmen who fought alongside Lawrence have no experience with technology, urban administration, or modern politics, and soon found themselves unable to oversee a modern city.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: The Arab uprising is portrayed leaving in the infighting, shallow motives and ruthless tactics.
** It's origins are not the heroic gathering of a single group for a great cause, but more or less a StagedPopulistUprising promoted by one colonialist empire against another colonialist empire, who manipulate sincere romantics like Lawrence to tap into Arab nationalist fervour without regard of the consequences, and without any real intention to deliver on the promises.
** The heroes of the Revolt end up realizing that they were being used, betrayed and discarded by the real power holders who more or less feel that [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness they have outlived their usefulness]], and that [[NoPlaceForMeThere there's little room in the new order for them]]. In the end they part ways. Sheriff Ali to moderate political reform, Auda Abu Tayi back to the same position he held before the Revolt with not much changed in his lot, and Lawrence back to England and obscurity, feeling that he never quite fulfilled his potential.
* RightInFrontOfMe: A British officer is honoured to shake Lawrence's hand, unaware that Lawrence was the dirty wog he'd slapped earlier.
* SaharanShipwreck: Lawrence is dumbfounded to see a ship sailing through the Sinai desert. It actually means he's reached the Suez Canal and safety. The funny thing about this is that ancient versions of the Suez Canal have been constructed and reclaimed by the desert before, in ancient human history. If the Suez Canal of today were to be abandoned, it would eventually sand in.
* SceneryPorn: Never has a desolate desert wasteland looked so beautiful. The film is oft-cited as reason enough ''alone'' to preserve three-strip Cinerama with wrap-around 70mm movie palace screens (and, on a somewhat related note, for {{Letterbox}}ing).
* ScrewDestiny: "Nothing is written." But as it turns out YouCantFightFate.
* SelfDestructiveCharge: Tallal after seeing his village razed by the Turks. Inspires Lawrence to initiate a RoaringRampageOfRevenge.
* ShootTheDog: Lawrence has to shoot a man guilty of murder to prevent his alliance falling apart. Which is also an example of ShootTheShaggyDog, since beforehand Lawrence went across the desert to save the man, though it did earn him the respect of some of the tribesmen.
* ShootTheShaggyDog: Lawrence unites the Arab tribes and defeats the Turks, suffering great personal trauma, only for the British and French to assume control over the Middle East the moment the war ends.
* SlidingScaleOfFreeWillVsFate: Lawrence's batman disappears in the desert. The bedouin refuse to try to save him because "it is written" (and because a bedouin would know well enough to be afraid of the desert). Lawrence rides off claiming, "nothing is written" and comes back in a few hours with his batman. However it is ultimately revealed that it really was written, given that Lawrence ultimately has to execute the batman.
* SlidingScaleOfGenderInequality: Famously used as an example why failing UsefulNotes/TheBechdelTest doesn't automatically makes a movie misogynistic since it takes place during a military campaign during UsefulNotes/WorldWarI.
* SociopathicSoldier: Lawrence grows closer and closer to this trope as the movie goes on, finally culminating in the massacre at Tafas.
* SoldiersAtTheRear: Lawrence begins the film like this.
* SomethingElseAlsoRises: A very creepy example thereof. According to WordOfGod, when Lawrence lifts his gun after murdering the boy, it symbolizes... well, you know.
* SoundtrackDissonance: The opening titles appear with a very jaunty tune over the top of Lawrence getting ready for his fatal motorbike ride.
* SpiritualSuccessor: Lean's next film, ''Film/DoctorZhivago'', was set in GloriousMotherRussia, this time with Russian steppe.
* StabTheSky: The DVD cover art, sometimes referred to as a [[http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51g0hbHcA2L.jpg "plane-swatter"]].
* StartsWithTheirFuneral: Starts with Lawrence crashing his motorcycle, his funeral, and then flashes back to before he became famous.
* StiffUpperLip: General Allenby qualifies, especially when Damascus dissolves into chaos late in the film:
-->'''Brighton''': Look, sir, we can't just do nothing.
-->'''Allenby''': Why not? It's usually best.
* TheStoic: Discussed. In the very start of the film Lawrence insists on practising his resistance to pain by holding his hand on a burning match. Or alternately, an implication of the real Lawrence's suspected masochism.
--> "The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."
* TheStrategist: Lawrence.
* SuppressedRage: T.E., in spades. Only observant characters understand this. When he finally lets it out, the results are [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge not pretty]].
* SurroundedByIdiots: The Turkish Bey says a variant: "I'm surrounded by cattle."
* TakeAThirdOption: A member of a rival clan has a grudge against Gazim, and threatens war if he's not allowed to kill him, while Gazim's own clan threatens war if he does. Lawrence then determines that the rival clan member will be satisfied with Gazim's death even if he's not the one to do it, and does the deed himself, not being affiliated with any clan and thus incurring no reprisals.
* TallDarkAndHandsome:
** Omar Sharif... most definitely.
** Averted in the case of Peter O'Toole as Lawrence himself, possibly the whitest mad dog or Englishman ever to venture into the desert. [[StupidSexyFlanders The tall and handsome part remains, though.]]
* ATasteOfTheLash: Lawrence is flogged by the Turkish officer when captured.
* TastesLikeFriendship: Lawrence gives his gun to his guide who answers by giving him some of his food. Lawrence tries to not let his horror show when he tastes it (but fails completely).
* TelevisionGeography: Sinai is not a white and sandy desert as depicted in the film, but an area of red-brown rock and mountains, [[CaliforniaDoubling and was filmed elsewhere (Spain, Morocco, or California)]]. The Wadi Rum scenery, in contrast, was actually filmed in Wadi Rum. T.E. Lawrences' ''Seven Pillars of Wisdom'', on which the film was loosely based, describes the diverse geography of the Sinai and Arabian deserts in detail.
* ThirstyDesert: The Arabian and Sinai deserts.
* ThouShaltNotKill: Although he would do it when he had no choice, Lawrence was known for being highly averse to bloodshed ("I've never seen a man killed with a sword before." "Why don't you take a picture?" // "Prisoners, sir, we took them prisoners, the entire garrison. No, that's not true. We killed some; too many, really, I'll manage it better next time."). That is, until Daraa; he returns a "changed man", despite Sherif Ali's claims to the contrary.
* ThousandYardStare: When Lawrence gets out of the Sun's Anvil (for the second time in a day), he's too busy blankly staring ahead like a seated corpse to notice people offering him water. And that's BEFORE the traumas start piling up.
* TransitionTrack: Used when the scene cuts from the banks of the Suez Canal to a busy street in downtown Cairo.
* TranslationConvention:
** This happens pretty liberally when Lawrence (and some other characters) switches pretty seamlessly between English and Arabic (and maybe Turkish). Some Arab actors are actually dubbed into English, despite their characters quite likely speaking Arabic.
** Interesting side note: In real life, Lawrence had to serve as a translator between General Allenby and Prince Faisal. This was especially awkward for Lawrence, since it meant he had to be the one to inform Faisal that the British weren't going to honor their commitment to an independent Arabia. Needless to say, the film has Allenby and Faisal speaking English to each other with no need for a translator.
* UndyingLoyalty: Ali tells Lawrence that he'll stay with him even if everyone else leaves, but after the Tafas massacre he can't keep to that, admitting to being afraid of him.
* VerbalBusinessCard:
-->'''Auda''': I am Auda Abu Tayi, does Auda serve?
-->'''Lawrence''': Lawrence. I've been seconded to the Arab Bureau.
* WalkOnWater: Alluded to. Ali tells Lawrence that instead of wanting the Arabs to do reasonable things, he wants them to walk on water. Later in Deraa, Lawrence walks across a puddle and laughs.
* WarIsHell: Not at first, but evident throughout the second act as Lawrence's losses and personal traumas stack up. Culminating in the final battle, a pointless massacre that could easily have been avoided.
* WarriorPrince: Ali is great for this. He was a perfect Hollywood version of a romanticised Bedouin warrior-prince, being dignified, honourable, and quite badass.
* WarriorPoet: Lawrence, who is even described by a journalist who knew him, as "a poet, a scholar, and a mighty warrior" (as well as some less flattering things) in the opening.
* UsefulNotes/WarriorsOfDesertWinds: An early example, before it formally organised.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: The tribal factions that make up Lawrence' Arab troops have deep-seated resentments. Part of Lawrence's struggle as a military commander is getting the tribes to set aside their differences in the name of a common goal. After the occupation of Damascus, the tribal resentments come to the surface again as the Arab National Council descends into childish bickering. After an argument that nearly becomes violent, Auda tells Ali that being an "Arab" (as opposed to a member of a tribe) will be harder than he ever imagined. This could have been the filmmaker's jab at the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-Arabism Pan-Arab]] movement of the 1950s and 60s.
* WhatTheHellHero: Lawrence gets many, but Tafas is probably the most glaring example.
* WhoAreYou: Far too many times to count. Once even before the film transitions into the extended flashback that makes up the vast majority of it.
* WickedCultured: Dryden keeps classical art and Egyptian statuary in his office.
* WideEyedIdealist: Lawrence is exceedingly naive about Britain's imperial ambitions in the Middle East, the warring tribes' ability to get along, and his army's ability to hold and govern Damascus. Though there's an element of self-delusion there as well.
* WidescreenShot: So many, it showed Lean was a master of them.
* TheWisePrince: Feisal.
* WorldOfSnark: Lawrence, Ali, Auda, Allenby, Dryden and Bentley are all quite handy with sarcasm and droll putdowns. Ali and Auda's first meeting is an epic piece of SnarkToSnarkCombat.
* WorthyOpponent: The Turkish officer at the train.
* YouCantFightFate: "It is written."
* YoureInsane: When Lawrence suggests a rather foolhardy course of action, Ali's response is "you are mad!"
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