2008-11-23 23:18:14 UTC
greats, a must-see, on everybody's top 25 list (top 50, anyway), etc.
etc. a brilliant masterpiece. I know this because I've been taught this.
But I don't like it. In fact, it's more than that -- I actively dislike
I tried it out again last night in hopes I'd see things differently this
time. HDNET Movies had run it some time back in HD and I'd saved it on
my DVR. It was the Robert Harris restoration and holy cow it was
beautiful to behold on my 42" plasma screen display with 5.1 Dolby
surround sound. I may be stupid not to like the movie, but I'm not so
stupid that I don't know beauty when I behold it, and I gotta say that
this film in the restored version in high definition is a wonder to
behold. I really, REALLY want to see it in 70mm on a big screen, and if
I ever get a chance I'll torture myself one more time just to lay eyes
on those incredible vistas, those gorgeously framed shots in full Super
Panavision as they were meant to be seen.
Yeah, there are good things to say. From the moment the film begins,
when Lawrence is readying his motorcycle for the death ride, it is so
obvious that this is one of those super-duper 1960s event movies
presented in roadshow engagements. There's just something indefinable
about it -- but you know from the start that this thing has aspirations,
that it is going to be BIG.
But oh I just don't like it. I don't like HIM -- T.E. Lawrence. He is
not a noble person -- everything he does is for his pleasure (nicely
echoed by Anthony Quinn's character) -- in fact, he is the villain, a
devil in brilliant white angel's clothing who brings misery and chaos to
the people he purports to help. I don't like the Omar Sharif character,
a tribal leader who (I admit) does grow as a human being through the
movie, but who begins as an arrogant cold-blooded murderer and who,
after that act, never won my sympathy. I don't like the Anthony Quinn
character, a stupid old man. I don't like the Alec Guinness character
-- so obviously a white man in blackface that it was disgusting. I
don't like the Claude Rains character or the British army characters who
lie to Lawrence, who loose him on the Arab tribes for their own hidden
purposes. I don't even like the Lowell Thomas character -- whatever
name they gave him -- even though he was more honest than anyone else
about the hypocrisy he was witnessing and abetting.
Last night my purpose was to transfer the High-Def copy of Lawrence I
have on my DVR onto my hard drive in order to keep it for future viewing
in high definition. I started the process at 10:30 pm and figured I'd
just let the transfer run while I slept. But after watching about 30
minutes and with no requirement to get up early this morning, I decided
it was time I watched it all once again. So there I sat into the early
hours of the morning, losing interest slowly and steadily, until by the
time Lawrence was blowing up a train, mowing down non-combatants, and
encouraging "his" troops to slaughter every poor person they
encountered, I had basically lost interest. It was 1:30 am and I was
working Sudoku puzzles rather than forcing myself to watch the
distasteful events transpiring on my TV.
I even had to go back to the DVR this afternoon to ensure I'd taken in
the final scenes of the movie -- because last night I just didn't care.
When I think back on the whole thing I realize there's nobody in the
movie that I actually liked, that I identified with -- not even the two
young men who followed Lawrence into (1) death by quicksand and (2)
death by bullet to the head by the hand of none other than T.E. Lawrence
himself. (That was, come to think of it, the second semi-sympathetic
character he murdered in cold blood.)
What is there to like about this movie? The cinematography? The score?
I'll give you both, gladly. They're wonderful, they're unforgettable,
they're magnificent artistic achievements. But that main character guy,
the one with the blond hair? ... Bleh.
And for what it's worth -- my transfer didn't work. Normally I run
VideoReDo's QuickStream Fix on HD video I've captured by firewire, but
VideoReDo choked on the almost 30-gigabyte file Lawrence of Arabia
created. So right now I don't have a Lawrence of Arabia video file
worth keeping on my hard drive, and while I think I know how to work
around the problem I'm considering just leaving things as they are. I
doubt I'll ever want to see this thing again on even a very nice high
definition TV. But 70mm? Maybe someday. I'll give it that.
I am the Mighty Favog
I am the Mighty Favog