The Use of Sound in "Lawrence of Arabia"

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The film, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ was produced in 1962 by Sam Spiegel, and it was written by David Lean (Qoumrh n.p). The fil entails the story of Lawrence, a young risk-taking student who greatly assisted the British to emerge victorious in the desert war in which the Ara tribe kicked the Turks out of Arabia. He managed to achieve this by interacting, associating and being a close ally to the great Arab tribe leader, Prince Faisal. However, during the production of this film, numerous techniques have been used, including the use of background sounds. This paper pays high attention to the analysis of the use of sounds in this film.

The producer of this film, David Lean, starts by explaining how and when T.E. Lawrence went to the Arabic countries (Syria in 1909) when he was 20 years old (Qoumrh n.p). In order to illustrate this, an old train at a high speed is seen, which then comes to a halt in Syria. However, the sound of the train engine is high and smooth, in such a way that it can be heard from a far distance. Through initial density of the train engine sound illustrates its speed, after which the sound of screeching breaks is heard, and this illustrates that the train is coming to a halt. In addition, the Lean incorporates hooting of the train, which is more audible than the sound of the train engine, and this serves as a warning to anyone or anything that could be along the railway line that a train is approaching.

In addition, Lean incorporates background music or band in most cases, especially when a change of an episode is in the offing. For example, at one scene, the director explains how and when Lawrence arrived in Syria as well as him family background, and as he proceeds to another episode that explains Lawrence`s passion for the crusades and as he walks to the crusade castles, a smooth and sharp sound of a trumpet is played as a background music. The tone and sound of the background music creates suspense to the audience, making them be curious of learning what will happen next. The suspense is also enhanced further by the director`s utterances such as, ‘It was dangerous journey for a young student travelling alone in order to study the design of crusader castles.” (Qoumrh n.p). Moreover, when Lawrence was included in the Arab military as an advisor, the director reveals that he was more than that, since he could manage to make explosives for attacking the hostile armies during the Arab desert wars. In order to illustrate this, Lawrence is pictured making an explosive that was aimed at destroying the railway line, and within no time, a loud sound of an explosive follows.

The incorporation of music in this film is also evidence when Lawrence`s motorcycle crashes. Precisely, the film starts with an overhead shot of Lawrence, the main character, who is on his motor bike. However, as soon as the credit sequence is done, there is an ominous change in music, and this signifies a change in situation. When Lawrence was studying the design and shape of the crusade castles in Syria, he goes to the villages and at one point, he was heavily attacked by some of the locals. At this point, the music changes from classical to a roaring sound of blows that Lawrence received from the attackers. In addition, when Lawrence continues to ride his motorbike, there are a number of ominous road works and road signs that he meets along, and this builds up tension that something bad is in the offing. As the motorbike speeds up, the sound of an engine gets louder similar to that of a howling wind, and this again builds up tension (Qoumrh n.p). Considering that Lawrence is not wearing a helmet on his head means that he is a risk taker, and the roaring engine sound gives am impression that anything can happen to him, and this enhances the attention of the audience.

In addition, when Lawrence was sent by General Murray to Egypt in order to assess the likelihood of Prince Faisal winning the revolt against the Turks, a number of dialogues were involved, and this among the major techniques that the director of this film embraced. For example, his journey to Egypt is full of challenges, and at one point, his guide Bedouin is murdered by Sherif Ali just because he had drink water without his permission (Qoumrh n.p). For this reason, Lawrence vows to reveal this killing but he engages in a dialogue with Colonel Brighton, who orders him to concentrate on his core business of assessing the likelihood of a win for Prince Faisal. However, when Lawrence finally managed to meet Prince Faisal, he engages into another dialogue with him, and the latter is fascinated by Lawrence`s depth of knowledge concerning the political implications of the revolt as well as his outspokenness. Another dialogue is engaged between Lawrence and Prince Faisal when the former proposes a daring attack on Agaba (a town which is highly guarded against any possible attack from the sea) convincing the latter to give him fifty men (who will be led by Sherif Ali).

Work Cited

Qoumrh. Lawrence of Arabia, Full Movie (Documentary). Published on 4th August, 2015. Accessed from,

September 25, 2023




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