Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lawrence of Arabia - 83

1962, Peter O'Toole, 3 hour 47 minute EPIC feature.  Really gives meaning to the term "full length feature".  Starting off my list of 83 movies with "Lawrence of Arabia" is like forming a book club and making everyone start off with War and Peace.

To be quite honest I wanted to tackle this one first since I recently watched it and there is a LOT to remember, annnnnd I want to get it out of the way.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting before I watched it.  I mean, I had just finished "Amadeus" which was a 3 hour film and I was thinking to myself "well at least I got the longest one crossed off the list!"  Then I opened the NetFlix envelope to have Running Time: 3 hours 47 minutes staring me down.  So I made sure to save a Sunday morning for the first half, hunkered down and began my quest of climbing the Mr. Everest of films from the 60's.  

As epic movies go, this was definitely a 9 out of 10 on the "epicness" scale. What surprised me the most was there wasn't a single female lead in the entire movie.  Which also meant that there was no type of love story or love interest.  I'm not saying that for a movie to be epic or good there has to be a love story, but it sure helps... it's a lot of film to sit through without one.

Sand.  If I had to describe the movie in one word I would choose; Sand.  And a hell of a lot of it.

Peter O'Toole did a phenomenal job developing his character throughout the film, especially since the film starts with his death.  But he of course was up against Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird) and wasn't awarded Best Actor that year.  I mean, Peter O'Toole was the movie.  There were no other leading characters, and no other actors that really stood out.  Mr. O'Toole took a nonchalant British soldier who was content painting maps in the basement of a building to a leader of an Arabian tribe.  I mean, think about it.  Integrating yourself into a culture that you have no business being in and then getting the people trust you AND then fight with you.  People who don't trust your kind.  Mind you, this was set in the early 1900's and the same stigmata of not trusting the "white people who only want to take advatage of you" was very present.  So when Lawrence comes along and starts fighting for the RIGHTS and land of the Arabian tribes it's quite the shock for all parties.

At one point in the movie he has to kill a man for stealing from another man, as is custom to the Arabs.  The thief turns his face and Lawrence sees that it is the same man he had earlier risked his life for in the desert to save.  Traveling without food or water to go back and save this man from starvation.  He looks him in the eye and pulls the trigger.  The first shot doesn't kill him so he stands there and empties a round into his friend and you can feel the pain and the regret.  Later when meeting with a British Major Lawrence explains what he had to do and at the end he has a hard time describing how he felt; "It felt... I felt... it felt... good". That was the turning point of the film.  The viewers then knew that Thomas Edward Lawrence was a changed man.

Well, I probably could go on about this movie for another 5 paragraphs but I don't want to bore all of you to tears.  

Did I mention that this movie had an intermission?  A musical intermission.  The composer decided to play it with no film.  So it's a 10 minute intermission with a black screen and music.  And sand, lots of sand.

Until next time,  thank you Academy #83

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