The hypnotic and boldly sweeping "Lawrence of Arabia" comes to DVD in a two-disc set that's a triumph of its own.
Running at 216 minutes, this film is split between the two discs so that it can be presented un-compressed, thus allowing the best quality picture and sound. Despite the original print being over 40 years old and having been forgotten in rusty old cans, the restoration team of Robert A Harris and Jim Painten created the wonderful new director's print of 1989. Transferred onto DVD, it is at times as if the film was made recently. Indeed it is so fresh it shames many films of the past ten years that have been released onto disc.
The 5.1 sound mix is a careful affair that concentrates on the front speakers. However, when a sandstorm erupts, or if the orchestral score requires it, then all the speakers kick in with magnificent strength.
Accompanying this release is a brand new one hour documentary, stuffed with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Art director John Box provides often the most interesting anecdotes as he talks us through producing moments like the train derailment or the mirage. Steven Spielberg describes that latter sequence as "the greatest miracle I've seen on film". More of his thoughts are on disc two, courtesy of an eight-minute interview with him.
As well as the new features there are also several old 'featurettes' from newsreels, which build up a fascinating picture of this epic during production. Along with a timeline of historical facts, maps, beautifully animated menus, and DVD-ROM stills, there's little a fan cannot revel in with this release.
Ratio: 2.20:1 (Anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
- Scene selection, animated menus, multiple language subtitles
- DVD-ROM features: Archives of Arabia part one
- Scene selection, exclusive one-hour 'making of' documentary, 'Journey With Lawrence' (timeline, maps, and historical facts)
- 'A conversation with Steven Spielberg'
- Four original featurettes from time of release: 'Mann, Jordan - The Camels are Cast', 'In Search of Lawrence', 'Romance of Arabia', 'Wind, Sand and Star: The Making of a Classic'
- New York Premiere (news footage)
- A history of the film's advertising materials
- Cast and crew filmographies, trailer, animated menus, multiple language subtitles
- DVD-ROM features: Archives of Arabia part two