With its atypical hero and straightforward narrative, this epic became a hit through sheer spectacle, creating an unmatchable image of the vastness of the desert. The eccentric T.E. Lawrence seemed an unlikely subject for an international blockbuster, but the story of his quest to unite feuding Arab tribes against the Turks during World War I was powerful enough that Hollywood tried to get the rights for almost four decades. Finally, Lean came up with the epic vision to use Lawrence’s eccentricities (brilliantly played by Peter O’Toole, in his first major film role) to create a sense of mystery. He was ably helped by a crew that included cinematographer Freddie Young, composer Maurice Jarre and editor Anne V. Coates ACE. All of them and the film itself were honored with Oscars. Coates, who had suggested the famous cut from O’Toole’s blowing out a match to the sun rising over the desert, renewed her association with the film by helping with its 1989 restoration. Along with restoring the film’s look and soundtrack, she, Lean and restoration expert Robert A. Harris discovered that prints since 1966 had flipped one reel from left to right. When they fixed that, Lean’s vision of a film with almost all movement going from left to right to create the sense of a journey, came back to life.

(d. David Lean, 216m, Digital) 

In Attendance: Anne V. Coates ACE.