Listen now | This week’s episode is Lawrence of Arabia directed by David Lean. Lawrence of Arabia is a masterpiece. It’s also Anna’s favorite movie. Lawrence is one of the most gorgeous films ever shot, and it also happens to feature one of the most interesting characters in cinema. It’s this combination that makes the movie truly remarkable.
First time I watch the movie, super impressed by the visuals. The beginning with the ceiling fans influenced Ridley Scott for sure. It's very dynamic and gives a great sense of depth. I loved the abstract shot of the desert with 1/4 sand 3/4 sky, reminded me of Rothko. And the shots with Lawrence walking on the top of the train (the shadow first and then the shot with the boots) are striking as well.
Like you said the world-building is very convincing with the complexity of characters and the dialogues that are there for character development, not exposition. I really liked the ambiguity of motivations of pretty much everybody, you don't get that often in movies. For the script/editing, I saw the same thing, the movie is kind of split in half with the second half covering much more events than the first. I read somewhere the expression "box of bricks" to describe that kind of jumping from set piece to set piece. I think it kinda works thematically in Lawrence of Arabia though because the first half is more about the psychological development of Lawrence and the second half is more like going through the motion of the various war events. I got a feeling of non-descript and repetitive acts of war, which I thought worked with the theme of Lawrence not enjoying/enjoying too much the mayhem.
For the music, I'm like Casey, it's too much for me. This kind of old-school symphonic scoring was the norm at the time so it's to be expected, but since the movie is very long and that the score is basically a variation on a very small theme, I felt it got tedious.
On a purely visual level, I also agree 100% on your view about David Lynch. I particularly like how he pushes the darks where you basically can't see anything. For Kubrick, I think Barry Lyndon is his most beautiful film. I would not go as far as saying it's a warm film, but I think the characters are less distant than 2001, I really like that one. Else, Tarkovsky made on me the same kind of lasting impression on a visual level than Lawrence of Arabia did with Anna.
I loved this movie the first time I saw it, which was the DVD version played on an unremarkable TV. Even with somewhat compromised visuals, the script and acting are excellent. I agree with Casey that the second half is a bit unfocused and overstuffed, but there’s still a lot to love about it, and I also agree the first half is pretty much flawless.
But man, seeing it in 70mm on a giant theater screen was a totally different experience, and elevated it even further. If anyone in the movie club hasn’t seen it that way, I can’t recommend it enough if you have the chance.
The night shots are incredible, I haven't seen anything like this elsewhere. Not sure what they did differently. Glad I re-watched it! My parents made me watch it (either as a VHS or DVD on a small screen) when I was small, back then I thought it was interesting but kind of boring and long as a kid.