Steven Spielberg is a maestro of modern cinema. His diverse oeuvre easily makes him stand out as a titan in the film industry.
With a career spanning decades, Spielberg has crafted iconic tales, from the heartwarming magic of ET to the thrilling chills of Jurassic Park—films that are so unmistakable good that you keep going back to them even years later. However, if you have ever wondered about the film Spielberg has watched repeatedly, we finally have an answer.
In an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Spielberg revealed a cinematic love affair that has stood the test of time—David Lean’s epic masterpiece, Lawrence of Arabia. Spielberg confessed to watching this cinematic gem more times than any other film. “Lawrence of Arabia. I’ve probably watched that movie more than any other film,” when Colbert quizzed him to name a non-Spielberg film he has watched the most number of times.
As the conversation unfolded, Spielberg delved into the profound impact Lawrence of Arabia had on him. He described the film as an audacious and deeply detailed portrait of a lonely human without self-awareness and identity. T.E. Lawrence, played masterfully by Peter O’Toole, is a character whose sense of self is derived from external perceptions—a theme that Spielberg underlined as a significant reason why he keeps going back to the film.
The juxtaposition of Lawrence’s intimate personal journey against the majestic backdrop of breathtaking landscapes has also left Spielberg in awe. The film, set against the vast and mesmerising desert landscapes, showcases some of the most spectacular scenic action ever captured on celluloid, and Spielberg marvelled at the film’s ability to seamlessly blend the small, personal story of a conflicted individual with the gargantuan scale of the desert vistas.
“That very personal story that could have been told in close-ups is set against a backdrop, a mural of some of the most spectacular scenic action I’ve ever seen in my life in any movie I’ve ever seen. It’s basically a juxtaposition between the small and the gargantuan,” Spielberg explained to Colbert.
Colbert, probing deeper, questioned whether Spielberg saw himself in Lawrence, a notion the director promptly dismissed. Spielberg clarified that he doesn’t identify with Lawrence’s ego and hubris but does find common ground in their shared spirit to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
Lawrence of Arabia explores its protagonist’s complex psyche against World War I’s backdrop. The film’s inherent meaning lies in the examination of identity, ego, and the pursuit of the extraordinary in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Lawrence of Arabia is available on the streaming platform only in a select few countries. Nonetheless, you can check out some of Steven Spielberg’s most iconic works on Netflix, from Jaws and Saving Private Ryan to Band of Brothers.