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Lawrence of Arabia: Fiftieth Anniversary Limited Edition
Release Date(s)1962 (November 13, 2012)
Studio(s)Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
As our own Dr. Jahnke has already quite capably reviewed both this film and the 2-disc Blu-ray edition, I’ll focus on the Fiftieth Anniversary Limited Edition box set in this review and the specific differences between the two BD versions.
Packaged in a gorgeous and oversized slipcase reminiscent of the laserdisc box sets of old, this deluxe version of Lawrence includes the regular 2-disc Blu-ray (the film in HD plus an additional disc of special features) and adds two more discs – a third Blu-ray of supplements exclusive to this Limited Edition and a CD sampler as well.
The exclusive Blu-ray offers something never-before-seen: the deleted “balcony” scene from the film with introduction by editor Anne V. Coates. It was originally meant to be included in the Director’s Cut of the film in 1989, but though the film elements were located the audio mix is incomplete – specifically Jack Hawkins dialogue is missing. They attempted to have a Hawkins sound-alike dub the dialogue but it just didn’t work well enough for the film, thus the scene’s presentation here. There are a pair of newly-created HD featurettes here including the interview piece The Lure of the Desert: Martin Scorsese on Lawrence of Arabia and the outstanding Lawrence at 50: A Classic Revisited which offers background on the new 4K restoration from Grover Crisp and his team (including rather shocking before and after footage comparisons). Vintage material presented here in full HD includes the short films King Hussein Visits Lawrence of Arabia Set and the original 1963 version of Wind, Sand and Star. Also here in SD is the 84-minute In Love with the Desert documentary on the making of the film (from 2001) as well as archival interviews with directors William Friedkin, Sydney Pollack and Steven Spielberg. A series of trailers and TV spots for the film round out the collection and I’m pleased to say they’re all in HD too. In an added nice touch, all the special features have optional subtitles for those who may find them useful.
The CD disc in this set offers 16 tracks of music from Maurice Jarre’s Academy Award-winning score, including a pair of previously unreleased cuts. The box additionally offers a pair of terrific swag items: a magnificent 88-page hardcover book filled with rarely seen photographs, essays and liner notes and a numbered film frame taken from a 70mm print of Lawrence. You can see the box set’s open contents arrayed here…
For those of you wondering if it’s safe to sell your previous 2-disc DVD version of Lawrence, the good news is that you can… if you choose to buy this Limited Edition box (the 2-disc BD alone doesn’t have everything from the DVD). Virtually everything save for the DVD’s interactive map and photo gallery (both DVD-ROM features) has carried over in this 4-disc box, but the book essentially replaces the gallery and the map was of limited value anyway.
All told, this is a magnificent package that must surely be included on any short list of the best Blu-ray releases of 2012. It’s worth every penny if you love this film as we do. Whichever version you choose, Sony’s long-awaited and meticulously-restored Blu-ray release of Lawrence of Arabia is simply not to be missed.
- Bill Hunt