"We wanted to return this film to as pristine a condition as possible to honour its anniversary release," says Grover Crisp, EVP of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering for SPE. The original camera negative was scanned at 8K and the film went through a painstaking process of repairing problems inherent to the 50-year old film elements. Using the latest digital imaging technology, the colour grading and re-mastering was completed in 4K at Colorworks, Sony Pictures Entertainments' digital intermediate facility. "The original negative was seriously damaged in a number of ways, some problems dating from the original release and some accumulated over the years." says Crisp. "But, until now, we did not have the tools available to address these issues. We think fans of the film will be as amazed as we are at the detail and resolution in the imagery captured by cinematographer Freddie Young to compliment David Lean's immaculate direction." How true!!
Lawrence of Arabia arrives at blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.19:1 encode. Now through the high scrutiny lens of blu ray comes an image of the greatness in the look back at Lawrence of Arabia that today requires only the gift of sight to see in all of its filmic glory. Sony's meticulous 4K restoration is not just a treat, it's a revelation and perhaps the definitive blu ray catalogue release, if not the format's finest presentation. It is a beautiful picture, to say the least, every frame lovingly cared for and displayed on blu-ray with the sort of attention to detail and, indeed, flawlessness that a film of this magnitude commands. Sony's picture dazzles from the opening shots of Lawrence speeding down very well-defined pavement and past sharp and accurate foliage. Detail remains exacting throughout the film; whether fine grains of sand, sweeping desert vistas, intricate clothing lines, or complex facial textures, there's never a frame in which the picture doesn't dazzle with its perfect film-like elements. The image is absolutely clean, showing no signs of wear and succumbing to no unwanted artifacts or digital tinkering. Colours are equally resplendent. Gold trim, bright reds, lush natural greens, and all variety of colours simply dazzle in every scene. Black levels are perfect, as is shadow detail. It is the sort of timeless image that transfixes and immerses, one that is so precise that viewers will become absolutely lost in the beauty of the film. One should watch it twice in succession, once for the transfer and once for the movie. (5/5)
Lawrence of Arabia makes its long-anticipated blu-ray debut with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack that's up to the task of sonically carrying the film and supporting its splendid visuals. The prologue music plays with superb clarity, excellent separation and distinctive notes, natural heft, effortless balance, and fine spacing, including a prominent but natural surround element. Music is certainly the sonic highlight throughout the film and a necessary ingredient in dramatically shaping the Lawrence of Arabia experience. Maurice Jarre's stunning score has never sounded better on a home video release. This is a high quality vintage soundtrack that's the perfect compliment to a classic film and its first-class video transfer. (5/5)
Academy Award Winner (1963):
Best Picture (Sam Spiegel)
Best Director (David Lean)
Best Original Music Score (Maurice Jarre)
Best Cinematography (Freddie Young)
Best Sound (John Cox)
Best Editing (Anne V. Coates)
Best Set Direction, Colour
Academy Award Nominations:
Best Actor (Peter O’Toole)
Best Supporting Actor (Omar Sharif)
Best Writing, Screenplay
Did you notice that almost all movement in the film goes from left to right? David Lean said he did this to emphasize that the film was a journey.
While filming, Peter O'Toole referred to co-star Omar Sharif as "Fred," stating that "no one in the world is called Omar Sharif. Your name must be Fred."
The film missed out on a 11th Oscar nomination - for Best Costume Design - because someone forgot to submit Phyllis Dalton's name for consideration.
This Limited Edition box set is quite large, measuring 12” x 12”, larger than regular box sets like The Sound of Music, Singin’ In The Rain, etc. This huge box really reminded me of those huge laser disc box sets from the days gone by. The white box is sheathed in a clear plastic slide-on cover that lists specs and supplement info. Inside, there is a fantastic 88-page coffee table book of the same size, with rare behind-the-scenes photos. There is an individually numbered 70 mm mounted film frame.
There are 4 discs: disc 1: Feature Film with secrets of Arabia: Picture-in-Graphics Track; disc 2: Special Features; disc 3 (gift set exclusive disc), containing never-before-released deleted scenes, the lure of the desert: Martin Scorsese on Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence at 50: a classic restored; In love with desert; King Hussein visits Lawrence of Arabia set; Wind, Sand and Star (Original 1963 version); archival interviews with William Friedkin, Sydney Pollack and Steven Spielberg; trailer & TV spots; disc 4: Soundtrack CD with original score from the film, with 2 previously unreleased tracks.
2012 is a very good year for vintage catalogue blu ray releases. Thankfully, they all had careful and detailed restoration. Thus, we are blessed with the best editions on blu ray in our collection, including E.T., Jaws, Indiana Jones, Cinderella, etc. And we end the year with the ultimate release of Lawrence of Arabia. Thanks to Sony for doing such a magnificent job in restoring this vintage classics to its original glory. This large box set is priceless, and will be displayed next to my other blu ray box sets, like Singin’ In The Rain, The Sound of Music, The Ten Commandments, The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind and Ben Hur. This is indeed a special treat for all the Lawrence of Arabia fans. There are two blu ray discs of Special Features, and I shall take my time to slowly go through and enjoy each section. The song listing for the original score CD is found on the page within the case. There are two previously unreleased tracks: Entracte and Exit Music. The sound of the CD is very well remastered.
All in all, this box set has so many goodies: restored film with tons of Special Features in HD, large book with gorgeous pictures and information about All You Want To Know About Lawrence of Arabia, the well-remastered soundtrack CD with bonus tracks, plus the authentic film frame (70mm film print)…my conclusion: priceless! Naturally, this box set is very highly recommended! The 2-disc movie only edition is of course also highly recommended, but you will be missing out on a lot of bonus features, plus all the goodies stated above. Personally, I find the higher cost for the box set is definitely worthwhile, and just opening the box set to discover all the different goodies is already a gratifying experience, like a child again looking for all the goodies.
I hope the above review is helpful to you.