I rolled out of town last night with a guy I know who is a movie buff. Actually, it is all he ever talks about and I’m pretty sure it is the only subject he knows well. We went to see the 50th anniversary one night showing of Lawrence Of Arabia. It is the first time I have seen it on the big screen and the first time the guy I was with had ever seen it at all.
The movie stars Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif and an all-star cast. It won numerous Oscars and is a visual delight. This is one reason I wanted to see it on the big screen. Shot in Jordan, it captures the desert experience well as it highlights the life of T.E. Lawrence, the man who was instrumental in defeating the Ottoman Turks in WWI and gave rise to the concept of a pan-Arab State.
The movie, even though it is like 3 hrs plus captures only the highlights of Lawrence’s life. It tells how he teamed up with the Hashemite Prince Faisal (most people don’t realize that at one point the Hashemites ruled Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iraq), captured Aqaba. his rape at Dura and his capture of Damascus and failed attempt at setting up an Arab government.
There is as much mystery about Lawrence (that isn’t in the film) as that we know about him. He constantly dropped out of sight and changed his name. Was he gay, married, had kids? Was his death really an assassination? Large chunks of his life are still being uncovered and there are a couple award winning biographies out there.
The biggest improvement I noticed last night with the film was in the sound. The scene where Omar Sharif makes his appearance in the desert – which is considered an iconic visual moment in film history – is a good example. There was no sound except the camel shuffling forward as Sharif’s character got closer. It was all you could hear and it had a powerful effect. The soundtrack is also wonderful and I actually do sometimes miss the overtures that use to start films or fill in intermission spots.
This is the second special anniversary screening I have seen this year. I saw Casablanca earlier in the year. This is starting to become a trend here in the States with famous movies like this and I appreciate it because some movies are so much better on the big screen. A DVD can’t always convey the grandeur especially with films made before everything became filled with CGI fx.
A word of warning though. These events are more expensive. Tickets are more along IMAX lines and for us it was fuel, food, and a snack at intermission. But it is a one time thing and I’ll probably never get to see it on the big screen again. Well worth it.