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Author Topic: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)  (Read 52331 times)
Beebs
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« on: February 19, 2006, 07:54:14 PM »

My new favorite movie.

A friend of mine, whom I deeply respect, gave me this movie for St.  Valentine's and it has made me think. I'd like to hear from some of you more experience guys out there. After I hear from your answers I'll post my own thoughts. What do you think it's about?

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2006, 08:53:43 PM »

I love the first half, but the second part is a disappointment. When playing the DVD, I usually don't come back after the intermission (LOL).

This film was certainly an influence on Leone, especially in the editing. When we look at OUATIA, for example, we see many Leanian transitional devices.

Also, I'm convinced the movie inspired Herbert to write _Dune_.

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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2006, 07:33:36 AM »

A pretty damn close to perfect movie.  Peter O'Toole is amazing, and so is the supporting cast (particularly Anthony Quinn and Jack Hawkins).  The cinematography is just amazing, I mean there's no other word for it.  And don't get me started on Maurice Jarre's score.

This movie has got me interested in this particular time period of history.  In fact, for a school essay last week I wrote as my thesis about how Turkish and British actions during WWI were largely to blame for the current problems of the Middle East.  And I can't watch the Damascus scenes at the end without being reminded of the current problems in post-war Iraq.  The movie isn't really historically accurate, but then again it isn't meant to be taken as a piece of history.

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Beebs
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2006, 10:35:13 AM »

I just noticed your quote from Sharrif.  I agree with the cinematography and will go as far as to say that it is the best picture I've seen as far as that field goes.

But I still would like to know what you think of the idea or purpose behind it. What's it about?

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titoli
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2006, 12:42:27 PM »

I saw it when it came out and didn't understand a thing. Saw it again on TV and found it unbearable, like all Lean's movies, including Kwai. C.B. De Mille did the same things, only better and nobody took him seriously and right they did.

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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2006, 05:14:24 PM »

"Like all Lean's movies"? Including Great Expectations and Oliver Twist and Brief Encounter? Sir, you astound me.

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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2006, 06:38:01 PM »

I was referring to the big budget ones. but also the ones you mention did nothing for me. I saw them once and wasn't impressed, though I admit they  are better than the kolossals.

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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2006, 11:06:16 PM »

I have to respectfully disagree. Lean was great in black and white, slightly less effective on Kwai and Lawrence, but lost his touch with Zhivago, an inflated soap opera. And don't get me started on Ryan's Daughter. He fell, but it was from a great height.

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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2006, 05:32:28 AM »

The fact is that I don't love english cinema, with the exception of genre movies. Even Michael Powell is not among my favourites, though he's the best out there. I don't know. I always found these movies contrived, not quite able to let themselves go. Even those of the so-called Free Cinema.  Of course I'm referring to english movies before the '80's. You have some jewels, of course (Peeping Tom, Thief of Bagdad, A Hard Day's Night) but more than for other national schools I find that the Brits gave their the best in the pure entertainment productions, expecially the Bonds and the horror. 

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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2006, 05:21:19 PM »

But I still would like to know what you think of the idea or purpose behind it. What's it about?

Well, it has numerous themes. 

First off, before you make any assumptions, you should realize that the movie is maybe 25% historically accurate at best, especially in its portrayal of Lawrence himself.

I think some of the major themes explored are:

1) Finding oneself - notice that Lawrence is asked "Who are you?" or a variation thereof repeatedly throughout the film.  Lawrence goes from an uncontent, obnoxious officer to an egotistical braggart to self-doubting to a murderous avenger to a thoroughly broken man.  Throughout the film he has to question himself as to what kind of person that he is.  It's arguable whether or not he does at the end.

2) Violence - I think a theme that may not be the biggest theme (or perhaps not as well-developed as in Peckinpah's films) but it's there, is Lawrence's mixture of enjoyment and horror of bloodshed.  The aftermath of the Turkish massacre is the best examplar of this, as is Lawrence's line when talking to Allenby about his executing Gasim: "I enjoyed it!"

3) The place of men in the world - I think Lean was trying to get across through the character of Lawrence (an "extraordinary man") a picture of humanity in general, as it sees itself and what it's proper place is.  Lawrence himself seems to indicate (through his thoughts and actions) that Man is (or should be) greater than being subject to pain and greed (for instance).  Lawrence through the first half is representative (at least in this view) of this, doing the impossible (crossing the Nefud Desert, uniting the Harith and Howeitat tribes, rescuing Gasim, capturing Aqaba) repeatedly.  The train scene (which shows Lawrence pretty much near the apex of his egotism) shows Lawrence getting shot but not hurt at all by a Turkish soldier.  Then, his torture (and rape) at the hands of the Turks shows him that he is indeed a human being.  Other supporting characters also help reinforce this idea, namely most of the Arabs requiring money and loot to join with Lawrence, the British broken promises with the Arabs, and the dissolution of the "Arab National Council" in Damascus. 

Well, those are some of my views, make of them what you will.

And I will not stand for this Lean bashing, Titoli.  Go jump off a cliff. Tongue

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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2006, 05:41:45 PM »

Sorry, no cliff around here. You'll have to put up with the bashing. Which is not a bashing at all since I don't go into particulars.  I'm just reporting my epidermic reactions, which critically are useless.

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Beebs
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2006, 06:15:50 PM »

Alright, time for my views.

Thank you Grogs for your ideas, I really enjoyed them.

The main theme, or at least the one that stood out the most to me is Violence as Groggy put it. I would go into more detail and describe it as what happens to a man when he kills someone. It a) haunts him b) makes it easy to kill again ("You know when you've killed four men it's easy to make it five") and c) could lead, like in Lawrence's case, him to enjoy it.   The massacre is a great example of this like Groggy said.

What is fun- I would like to find the real quote and I forget the name of the man who said it but he says to Lawrence, "It is recognized, that you have and odd* sense of fun"

*i can't remember the word used here

It turns into an adventure for Lawrence but it isn't fun after he had to execute Gasim.



Anyway, those are the high points of my thoughts.

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Tim
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2006, 07:10:06 PM »

  One of the few movies that deserves to be called EPIC.  The cinematography alone makes this movie worthwhile.  That shot that introduces Omar Shariff early in the movie is one of the most beautiful shots I've ever seen, also because Lean had the guts to do a shot like that with one tiny speck on the horizon.

  Beebs, which DVD did you get as a Valentine's Day gift?  The single disc w/ the blue cover, I think, or the 2-disc specially packaged one?  I've heard good things about the special edition, and its one movie I definitely have to add to my dvd collection.

  Speaking of David Lean, have you seen any of his other movies?  Dr. Zhivago is a goodie, and Bridge on the River Kwai has always been one of my favorites.

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Groggy
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2006, 05:42:06 PM »

It's "funny sense of fun", Beebs.  It was none other than Claude Rains (aka Mr. Dryden) who said it.  I had that as my signature on the IMDB for quite awhile.

And Titoli, I was just joking.  You are certainly entitled to your opinions.

I love "Bridge On The River Kwai" almost as much as LoA, though it's much more character driven.  "Dr. Zhivago" is also excellent, though not as good as the other two IMO.  That movie is worth watching for the cast (Omar Sharif and Rod Steiger in particular) and beautiful cinematography, though admittedly the love story isn't all that engrossing (at least for me).

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« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2006, 05:47:10 PM »

This film was certainly an influence on Leone, especially in the editing. When we look at OUATIA, for example, we see many Leanian transitional devices.

Any particular examples?  I don't doubt this, but I'm just curious.

Interesting bit of trivia: Aldo Sambrell has a bit part in "Doctor Zhivago", as one of the guys on the train with Zhivago, Tanya, Ralph Richardson, and Klaus Kinski's character. 

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