Considered one of Lean’s best films, and one that Speilberg has cited as having inspired him to direct, “LAWRENCE OF ARABIA” has been released for a third time on dvd. There had been a special edition version as well as a film “only” version already, and while this new release is a “film only” release, it’s a “SUPERBIT”, meaning there has been an increased amount of space allotted for the image, thus less compression, meaning a better defined image!
While Lean has often been criticized for caring more about imagery than content, the staggering impact of the imagery in this film, can’t be denied. In one of the most famous scenes, a distorted image transforms before the viewer’s eyes into a man riding towards the camera, on his camel. It’s just one of many incredible scenes, and it’s far more impressive on this “Superbit” release than on either of the two previous versions.
For those unfortunate enough to have not experienced “LAWRENCE OF ARABIA”, it’s hard to imagine a better way(short of a gigantic theatrical screening)to experience the film, other than on this “SUPEREBIT” dvd.
There’s much to praise here, as Robert Bolt’s script manages to define many complex situations and ambiguities into an accessible story, incomplete, and imperfect, but compelling never-the-less.
Peter O’ Toole is magnificent in the lead role, and it’s hard to find any actor today with the same on-screen charisma, that would have been able to pull this role off as he did.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has preserved the film’s correct 2.20:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. While there are some halo effects present sporadically, the overall detail to this release is outstanding! It really is almost like night from day, in comparison to the previous dvd releases. Color balance is also remarkably improved. The blue skies have incredible resolution to them and fine texture of the sand is more evident here than in any other film transfer showing the desert.
The contrast is also remarkably improved, allowing for incredible detail in darker scenes. Fleshtones are also more natural appearing than on the previous dvd releases.
Being a “SUPERBIT”, for the best overall image resolution, the film has been split up over two discs.
Being a “SUPERBIT” also means that in addition to a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, a “DTS” 5.1 mix is also included! The sound restoration isn’t nearly as impressive as the image, however, it’s still a nice option to have both mixes available. While dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion, the overall music and sound effects come across in a cruder manner than we’d expected. Fidelity isn’t up to par in the presentation of the magnificent Maurice Jarre score. There’s almost no bass to speak of either. While neither mix is fantastic, the “DTS” mix offers noticeably better balance and fidelity.