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50th Anniversary Digital Restoration of 'Lawrence of Arabia' Comes to the Academy, National Release October 4, Blu-ray November 13 UPDATED

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood July 18, 2012 at 4:01PM

Sony celebrates the 50th anniversary of David Lean's 1962 epic masterpiece "Lawrence of Arabia" with a glorious new 4K digital restoration of the director's cut, set to be released in theaters October 4, and having its stateside premiere at the Academy July 19.
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Lawrence of Arabia

Sony celebrates the 50th anniversary of David Lean's 1962 epic masterpiece "Lawrence of Arabia" with a glorious new 4K digital restoration of the director's cut, set to be released in theaters October 4, and having its stateside premiere at the Academy July 19. As Peter O'Toole announces his retirement from acting, this is the Oscar-nominated role for which he will always be remembered. Even Michael Fassbender's "Prometheus" robot models his look on O'Toole in "Lawrence of Arabia."

After its October rollout, the new restoration will be featured for one night only on TCM November 16. UPDATE: And Sony confirms a Blu-ray release for November 13.

Sony's preeminent film preservationist Grover Crisp says of the difficult preservation process, and the amazing results due to digital restoration tools:

"We wanted to return this film to as pristine a condition as possible to honor its anniversary release. The original negative was seriously damaged in a number of ways, some problems dating from the original release and some accumulated over the years. 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.”

"Lawrence of Arabia" was nominated for a staggering 10 Oscars, and won seven, including Best Picture and Best Director. O'Toole received a nomination for the platinum-haired title role, and Omar Sharif received a Supporting nomination in his first English-language performance. Sharif will give a special video message prior to the screening at the Academy.

The new restoration had its international debut at Cannes in May.

This article is related to: Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Classics, Sony Pictures, Digital Future, Lawrence of Arabia


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.