'Lawrence of Arabia' returns to the Senator

September 14, 1990|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Movie Critic

He's back and, boy, do we need him now.He's T.E. Lawrence, scourge of the desert, who is returning to the epic screen at the Senator in the form of 70-millimeter print of David Lean's 1962 classic, "Lawrence of Arabia."

According to Tom Kiefaber, the owner of the Senator, the original five-week run of "Lawrence" played to more than 20,000 patrons in the spring of last year. On its last night, a Tuesday, more than 200 people were turned away from the 900-seat theater on York Road.

"Since then," Kiefaber says, "I've been barraged with calls requesting its return. So we're bringing it back for a one-week run."

Kiefaber added that the Gulf crisis has certainly focused attention on that part of the world, and the Arabs who control it.

"During Lawrence's time, it was over water; now it's over oil," he says.

The film is a biography of the enigmatic English intelligence officer who vanished into the desert during World War I and managed to unite the Arab tribes in a guerrilla war against the Axis powers.

Lawrence's motives, like his personality, remain obscure, and the screenplay, by the English dramatist Robert Bolt, probes this remote, charismatic, brilliant man. The film made a world star out of Irish actor Peter O'Toole.

"The movie really should be seen in 70 millimeter," says Kiefaber. "That's how Lean photographed it."

The film's original negative had fallen into disrepair over the years since its initial release, as during subsequent releases and television showings, it was trimmed to accommodate more hurried schedules. In 1989, at a cost of several million dollars, it was restored and released around the country.

The Senator's print, according to Kiefaber, is the one pristine 70-millimeter cut left in the country.

Lawrence of Arabia'

Starring Peter O'Toole

Directed by David Lean

Released by Columbia Pictures


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