YMMV / Lawrence of Arabia

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Were the Arab tribesmen proud warriors who were manipulated into exchanging Turkish masters for English ones? Or backwards, amoral thugs who were incapable of administering Damascus, much less a country of their own?
    • Is Allenby a callous, manipulative villain or a good but conflicted man "just following orders"? The finished film leaves it ambiguous; several deleted scenes point to the latter.
    • Lawrence himself - a good albeit eccentric man fighting for a just cause, or a Manipulative Bastard out for personal glory?
    • Brighton - Anthony Quayle thought he was an idiot, while David Lean thought he was noble.
  • Award Snub: A tricky one. While winning almost all the major awards, it won none for acting, leaving O'Toole (regarded as some of the best acting ever in film) empty handed. Of course, Gregory Peck won that year for To Kill a Mockingbird, so it was either giving it to the newcomer (O'Toole) doing (in hindsight) the role of his career, or the veteran doing the role of his career. Essentially, no matter who won, the other would have equally deserved it. What makes it Harsher in Hindsight is that this was very much a Tough Act to Follow for O'Toole: He holds the record (8 nominations) without ever winning an Academy award.
    • Similarly, the heavily-acclaimed script lost in Best Adapted Screenplay (again, to Horton Foote for To Kill a Mockingbird). Without slighting Foote, the main reason appears to be co-writer Michael Wilson being denied credit by Sam Spiegel. His involvement, though unacknowledged by the production company and Robert Bolt, was an open secret (and minor scandal) in Hollywood due to Wilson's former blacklist status.
    • Additionally, Omar Sharif was seen as the frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actor, even winning the Golden Globe that year. However, in a stunning upset, he lost out to Ed Begley for Sweet Bird of Youthnote .
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The inexplicable Mr. Perkins, who praises Lawrence on a job well-done while only being shown from the waist-down (and is never seen or heard from again). Odd in and of itself, doubly so as Mood Whiplash during a very tense scene between Lawrence and Allenby.
  • Crazy Awesome: Lawrence. Do we really need to explain this one?
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Maurice Jarre's sweeping orchestral score (originally recorded by the London Symphony) has long been regarded as one of the best in cinema history.
  • Fair for Its Day: When originally released, Lawrence was considered fairly progressive in making the Arabs not only sympathetic, but drawing fairly complex characters in Ali, Feisal and Auda. In contrast, modern reviewers often complain about alleged stereotyping due to the emphasis on Bedouin looting and political discord, and the casting of English Alec Guinness and Hispanic Anthony Quinn as Feisal and Auda.
  • Freud Was Right: The Bey's cough while Lawrence is being whipped. David Lean reportedly told Jose Ferrer to act like he was having an orgasm (which makes sense, given the scene's subtext); the result is suitably creepy.
  • Fridge Brilliance: O'Toole was primarily a stage actor before this, and it shows. But think about the way in which Lawrence is trying to create a larger-than-life persona for himself, and suddenly his grandiose way of carrying himself makes perfect sense.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Daud, Farraj, and Gasim are all introduced as comedic characters. Good luck with that.
  • Ho Yay: Lawrence and Ali, intentionally so.
    • Also, Lawrence, Ali, and Auda when the three dine in Auda's tent. Lawrence in particular behaves flirtatiously when trying to convice Auda to join his side. Auda even tells them, "You trouble me like women!"
  • One-Scene Wonder: Jose Ferrer's scene-stealing cameo as a perverted Turkish general. Ferrer himself reportedly considered this his best film performance.
  • Strawman Has a Point: While Murray is caricatured as an unimaginative martinet he makes a reasonable point: why encourage an Arab uprising when the British plan to rule over them anyway?