4 Facts About David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia”

David Lean’s 1962 epic drama Lawrence of Arabia is considered one of the greatest movies ever made. Set during the First World War, the movie chronicles the real-life experience of British archeologist and army officer T. E. Lawrence, who is sent to Arabia to serve as a liaison during fights against the Ottoman Empire. Continue reading to learn some facts about Lawrence of Arabia that you probably didn’t know.

Lean Almost Didn’t Make the Movie

In the late 1950s, Lean wanted to make a biopic about Mahatma Gandhi. However, the project proved to be quite challenging, causing him to explore other projects. It is then that he became interested in adapting Lawrence’s autobiography The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

The Movie Was Banned in Arab Countries

The majority of Arab countries banned Lawrence of Arabia upon its release, believing it is a misrepresentation of the Arab world and its historical figures. However, Omar Sharif, one of the movie’s stars, campaigned to get it released in its native Egypt and even organized a screening for the country’s President. Sharif’s campaign was successful, and the movie became a huge hit.

Marlon Brando Was Initially Offered the Lead Role

Lean initially offered the lead role in the movie to Academy Award-winning actor Marlon Brando. However, Brando rejected it in favor of shooting a higher-paid Mutiny on the Bounty. After also being rejected by Albert Finney, Lean turned to Peter O’Toole.

There is a Made-for-TV Sequel

In 1990, following the re-release of Lawrence of Arabia in theaters, Christopher Menaul directed a made-for-TV sequel A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia. Starring Ralph Fiennes in his first film role, the movie followed Lawrence during the events of the Paris Peace Conference.

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