Synopsis by Mark Deming
David Lean's 1962 masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia rewrote the rules for the making of a Hollywood epic, proving a movie could be intelligent, perceptive and deliver a handful of striking characters studies while telling its story on a grand scale. Lawrence of Arabia won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is still regarded as one of the great films of the Sixties, and filmmaker Anne Kunvari offers a backstage look at the movie as well as the man who made it in this documentary. Il Etait une Fois . . . Lawrence d'Arabie (aka Once Upon A Time . . . Lawrence of Arabia) combines archival footage and interviews with newly conducted conversations with actor Omar Sharif, film editor Anne V. Coates and film historian Kevin Jackson, who offer their perspectives on the movie and how it was made. Kunvari also includes a chat with Lean's widow Sandra Lean and rare interviews with David Lean as well as a reporter's conversation with leading man Peter O'Toole on the set. Il Etait une Fois . . . Lawrence d'Arabie was screened as an official selection at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.