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The name’s Arabia. Lawrence of Arabia. – Lawrence

January 29, 2011

There is no greater epic than Lawrence of Arabia. None. Ben-Hur has scenes like “Ramming speed!” and the chariot race to get your blood pumping, but for wide shots of unimaginably rich vistas, sweeping battle scenes and some of the finest actors of the 20th century making the screen sizzle, nothing can compare to David Lean’s masterpiece. It’s one of the few films truly worthy of the “epic” description, a brand of film that’s still imitated year after year but, sadly, seems to have vanished in a sea of CGI and 3-D chicanery. Years ago I bought my parents their first DVD player as a Christmas gift, and Lawrence was the movie I got them to christen it. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

I had no idea that their was a comic version of the film until I found this by rummaging in a few loose piles of stuff one day, though this book is less an adaptation of the movie than an alternate take on the idealistic life of T.E. Lawrence. It suffers in comparison along with its other adaptation cousins, but there are moments when the sweeping action of the subject’s warrior career shines through, as in this rather large panel:

Certain bits are lacking for obvious reasons. Remember the scene in the film where Lawrence, drunk with his own sense of infallability and invincibility, is captured and brought before the Turkish Bey? The one played by the late, great Jose Ferrer? The one who strips Lawrence nude, ogles him and assaults him, with all the attendant homosexual undercurrents and overcurrents that would be so disturbing and scintillating to a 1960s audience? The incident, including the sexual doings, is regarded as established history and is taken from Lawrence’s own memoir, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but for obvious reasons the comic excises the salacious bits:

Then there’s the end, with the famous epitaph offered up by Winston Churchill, who comes out here looking as if Alfred Hitchcock and Jonathan Winters had a love-child:

If anyone can tell me who scripted and tackled the art in this one, I’d be glad to be enlightened. I like to give credit where credit’s due, and I certainly enjoyed chunks of this comic — some of the art was quite pleasing to the eye.

What a movie. I haven’t watched it in years — maybe it’s time to carve out a few hours. We shall never see its like again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. neill permalink
    January 30, 2011 3:13 pm

    Great film, agreed. To my eye, the art looks like Vince Colletta (he did used to do some pencilling as well), though I don’t know that he worked for Dell.

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