Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1960s: Lawrence of Arabia

Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, Lawrence of Arabia, 1962.

Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, Lawrence of Arabia, 1962.

We continue our survey of the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1960s.

For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1950s, click here.

For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1940s, click here.

For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1930s click here.

For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1920s click here.

3. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962.

Such a strange movie.

No girl. No big stars. No memorable action sequences. No plot.

And yet Lawrence of Arabia is mesmerizing.

A genuine epic, four hours long, costing an enormous amount of money to produce, Lawrence of Arabia is perhaps the most original portrait of an anti-hero ever filmed.

Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia.

Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia.

The real Lawrence of Arabia, T.E. Lawrence, was the illegitimate son of a minor but wealthy British aristocrat, Sir Thomas Chapman, and Sarah Lawrence, a governess who herself was illegitimate. Perhaps homosexual—though he claimed to be “sexless”—but with a taste for flagellation, Lawrence was a deeply private man who craved fame even as he loathed his own lust for celebrity. He was, in short, a man of deep contradictions, a neurotic mess who through sheer force of personality managed to unite a few nasty desert tribes in a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire from 1916 to 1918.

In truth, the “great Arab revolt” was not all that great. In Lawrence’s own words, it was nothing more than “a sideshow of a sideshow” in the great game in which the European colonial powers indulged during and after World War I. The consequences of this game are still with us in the dysfunctional Arab Muslim world.

But director David Lean and screenwriters Michael Wilson and Robert Bolt saw the quirky and flamboyant Lawrence as a unique sort of hero. They understood that Lawrence was no patriot, but a bitter outsider who resented the rigid British class system and leeched onto the notion of wild desert tribes who would punish first the Turks and then the haughty Brits in a dashing, romantic desert revolt.

When I think of Lawrence of Arabia, I see a tiny speck in the desert, like a ghost, floating through shimmering waves of desert sand, cohering at last into the image of an Arab riding a camel. The image is held for a long time. The camera does not blink. There are no cuts. It is a visionary shot that has few precedents in motion picture history.

Another shot: Peter O’Toole as Lawrence, posing in his flowing white desert robes and admiring his own reflection in the shiny metal of his dagger. Later, O’Toole poses again, but this time madly defying bullets aimed right at him as he strides atop the roof of a burning Turkish railroad car that he and his Arab troops have bombed and looted. The image is almost laughable because O’Toole brings to mind a flamboyant gay man oozing down a catwalk in Milan. The image is stunning, a glamorous misfit leading a guerrilla campaign. The idea that Lawrence is playing at war and carnage as sexual sublimation is never stated, but it is always there, between the lines, in this film.

In an early edition of his memoirs, Lawrence summed up his psychological pathologies quite explicitly: “… a bodily wound would have been a grateful vent for my inner perplexities.”

I have no doubt that screenwriters Wilson and Bolt jotted down this confessional line, and used them as the spine for their characterization of Lawrence.

When Peter O’Toole was cast as Lawrence, he was an unknown. An Irish actor with a very strange delivery and a sliver of a body whose limbs seem clumsily out of sync, O’Toole articulates his lines as if reciting poetry by Dylan Thomas. His delivery has nothing of the Method naturalism. He is wildly theatrical in every syllable and gesture. He is one of the most quirky actors ever to grace the screen. We don’t look to O’Toole for quiet moments of repose or inner anguish. He is best when exploding with gesture and poetry. Unlike Richard Burton, also a deeply theatrical actor, O’Toole manages — in his best performances, and Lawrence is still his best role — to impart a profound sense of intimacy. It’s a rare gift. The bigger he gets, the more personal his connection to the audience becomes.

The screenplay for Lawrence of Arabia is brilliant. Exposition is almost invisible. The dialogue is lean, almost poetic. Screenwriters Wilson and Bolt never attempt to turn Lawrence into a traditional romantic hero. Wilson, Bolt, and Lean understand that the flawed hero is the best hero. In fact, Lawrence, with his azure blue eyes and bombshell blond hair, is truly charismatic, undeniably courageous, but also borderline crazy. His flaws — masochism, narcissism and, most disturbing of all, brutality to surrendering Turkish troops — are a disturbing subtext that runs throughout the film. That subtext, together with the haunting desert imagery and Maurice Jarre’s memorable score, makes Lawrence of Arabia one of the most vexing, yet compelling, movies ever made.

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48 Comments

  1. sennacherib
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    Thinking of Sharif’s personal life and your picture above, I can’t resist.
    Lawrence: 4NT! He can’t possibly be using Blackwood Convention over my 3 diamond opening!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Barry
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Robert:
    Certain you are aware of this — Twilight Time’s Blu Ray release of Body Double has sold out prior to general release indicating intense interest.  Fascinating level of success.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 4:16 am | Permalink

      Barry:

      I was not aware. Thanks for letting me know. It’s a great looking film, very stylish. Meanwhile, I don’t have a single DVD of my first movie, much less a Blu Ray.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Barry
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Robert:
     
    Good news and bad news.
    !. Good — The Blu Ray of Body Double has sold out prior to availability. Fantastic success.
    Bad — The Yanks perfomance this afternoon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. DavidP
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    When I was a little kid, my dad took my brother and me to “Lawrence of Arabia.” I was mesmerized by the whole spectacle — even if I didn’t understand the history or plot and all the things that, you’d think (incorrectly), are critical to creating and enjoying a movie. You’d think this is a movie for adults and “intellectuals,” yet if a kid can get wrapped up in it, well, I guess that’s great movie making.

    Speaking of the plot in Lawrence of Arabia (or lack of one): I once read that after a screening of the great crime movie “Bullet,” movie goers were asked to explain the plot upon leaving the theater. Most couldn’t recall it accurately — yet they loved the movie!

    I saw the restored version of “Lawrence of Arabia” in New York City back in the 1980s, incidentally, and I was as mesmerized as an adult as I had been as a kid (though of course, I saw things in the film that I hadn’t noticed before). The screening at an upscale Manhattan theater was quite an event.

    Thanks for this fascinating article, which brings together various insights — the real-life T.E. Lawrence, Middle Eastern history, and the art of movie making — in a way that I’ve never seen before; and the readers comments add extra layers of understanding on a movie that I’ve thought about for years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 4:13 am | Permalink

      David:

      Glad you found my piece about LOA enlightening.

      Regarding “Bullitt” (1968), who needs to comprehend a plot when you have the greatest car chase ever, plus the lovely  Jacqueline Bisset in a man-tailored shirt eating breakfast cereal in the morning sun.

      Years ago I met former actor Steven Hill, co-star of Bullitt. He is now a devoutly Orthodox Jew. I asked him about the plot of Bullitt and he said: “What are you doing wasting your time watching stupid movies?”

      That was The End of that conversation.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Barry
        Posted September 1, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Steven Hill knew what he was talking about. And, McQueen is the perfect star for something stupid.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        • Robert J. Avrech
          Posted September 1, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

          Barry:

          Steven maintains that all movies are stupid.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • KirkParker
        Posted September 25, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        People in Hollywood do tend to work on stuff as needed, to keep the income rolling in.  Being involved with a project is *not* to be taken as an endorsement of it!  My cousin works in photography and the list of things he’s worked on that he *doestn’t* recommend (LL Cool J music videos, some lame major-studio “thriller”, etc) is quite long.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Bill Brandt
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Well, well. Amid this discussion about LOA I am reading a recent National Review and there is a book review on him –
     
    http://www.amazon.com/Lawrence-Arabia-Deceit-Imperial-Making/dp/038553292X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377969292&sr=1-1&keywords=lawrence+of+arabia
     
    “Lawrence of Arabia enjoys a prominent place in the mysterious self-perpetuating realm of myth. This remarkable achievement has always depended on the impression he left of himself as both hero and victim. He was able to persuade influential friends and opinion-formers to take him at his word, and many still think it in rather poor taste to ask awkward questions about whether he did more harm than good.
    Realistically Lawrence was a British intelligence agent of middling rank and demonic temperament operation in World War I in the Arab provinces of what was then the Ottoman Empire, Germany’s voluntary ally. …”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 4:16 am | Permalink

      Bill:

      I just picked up Michael Korda’s bio of Lawrence “Hero” and it is just fascinating. Refreshingly, Lawrence was not your typical British anti-Semite.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • sennacherib
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:08 am | Permalink

        I’ve been interested in Lawrence since my mother got me to read Seven Pillars.. when I was around 10 or 11 (reread several time since) yes a very strange man. Though not exclusively to, it seemed the empire produced a lot of these guys. Anyway let me know how you like the book. You may be surprised about what you read of him, especially how he was after the war.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        • KirkParker
          Posted September 25, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

          it seemed the empire produced a lot of these guys.

          You mean, like Gen. Wingate?  🙂

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Posted August 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    There are scenes in this film that are staggeringly well done, and I love O’Toole’s performance, but I must confess that sitting through the entire thing is a bit of a slog, not too different from that long ride through the shimmering desert heat toward the promised relief of a cool drink — or the credits.
    As for my favorite O’Toole role, to this Brooklyn-born Jew that must surely be Alan Swan in “My Favorite Year,” a wistful (and uproarious) tribute to New York, live television, egomaniacal celebrities and flawed film stars. O’Toole is splendid all the way through.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 4:18 am | Permalink

      Mike:

      I’m with you in my affection for “My Favorite Year.” A wonderful script and O’Toole is just perfect making fun of his own (and Erroll Flynn’s) personae.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Larry
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Wonderful! Two other people who liked “My Favorite Year”! I loved that movie from the first moment I saw it in the theater when it came out. O’Toole’s performance as a near-the-end Flynn was masterful and the in-jokes about the Sid Caesar show and its amazing writing staff was nothing short of marvelous.
         
        (Can’t even relate O’Toole’s Flynn homage to Timothy Dalton’s gnashing insult trying to give credence to the Nazi lie in “The Rocketeer,” although that’s a fun movie for entirely different reasons.)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. sennacherib
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I loved this movie. It was one I got lost in. O’Toole as Lawrence was the casting choice of the ages. Not only was there an eerie physical resemblance, but people who had known Lawrence said he had captured him.
    I first saw LOA at the drive-in with my family. The intermission was strategically  placed right after the crossing of the “Anvil of the Sun”, when the lights came up people tore the doors off the snack bar to get something to drink!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 4:20 am | Permalink

      LOA at a drive-in… I admit, I always thought that drive-ins programmed B movies. Amazing!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • sennacherib
        Posted September 1, 2013 at 5:17 am | Permalink

        Not in Texas and not at that time. For poorer families it was great. The wide screen worked pretty well. There wasn’t any indoor theaters that handled movies (especially epics) like this very well. You parked your pick up backwards and sat in lawn chairs in the back.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        • Robert J. Avrech
          Posted September 1, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

          Never knew that about rural drive-ins. That must have been an amazing experience. Thanks so much. There is always more to learn about movies.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • sennacherib
            Posted September 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

            Robert,
            That was in the state capitol Austin! When Cleopatra came to town all Dairy Queens and Stuckey’s in a 50 mile radius were closed. People came from as far away as Throckmorton and Wink. The women said it was obvious Cleo didn’t get out much, the men didn’t say much as most of them were intently studying hieroglyphics. When the “Ten Commandments” showed the bricklayers union went out on one week solidarity strike in support of you guys working for Pharaoh. down here we got serious about movies. The first large screen indoor theater wasn’t built here until the mid sixties, believe it or not.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. Posted August 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Ah, one of my favourites.
     
    I don’t agree that it has no plot. It has rather a lot of plots, which get in each other’s way and don’t always resolve satisfactorily, just like life. Considering the subject matter, that makes a lot more sense to me than if they’d crowbarred a standard story structure onto his life. As you say, Robert, the man was disturbed and disturbing and possibly insane. A meandering and unpredictable plot conveys that rather well.
     
    I can’t agree either that there are no memorable action scenes. The charge on Aqaba is amazing. And that amazing entrance on camel you mention — surely the longest entrance ever filmed — is of course an action scene, as it ends with a killing. A lot of action films use long quiet tense build-ups to bursts of sudden violence, and I’ve always thought that scene is the ultimate example of just how far that idea can be pushed.
     
    And I disagree, too, that it has to be seen on the big screen to be enjoyed. To be fully appreciated, sure, but I enjoy every minute of it on a TV.
     
    When they restored the full-length version, the lost film they retrieved had a salvagable picture but useless soundtrack. So they had to rerecord the sound, including rehiring the cast. However, Jack Hawkins had died, so they had to hire an impersonator to do his voice. However again, Jack Hawkins had lost his voice anyway towards the end of his career, so the impersonator they hired was the same man who’d been overdubbing Hawkins’s voice when he was alive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Squander:

      There are action sequences and then there are battle scenes. To the screenwriter and director, these are two distinct animals. LOA has some fine battle scenes, but they are epic in scope and not the chop-chop action/battle scenes that make an audience sit up and root for the hero. Lean lays back with his wide lens and presents spectacle with a capital S in 70mm wide screen.

      But listen, your points are well taken and I’m always ready to sit down, look at the film once again, and reconsider the plotless plot.

      Always good to hear from you.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Posted August 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    You mentioned that O’Toole is an “Irish actor with a very strange delivery… [who] articulates his lines as if reciting poetry by Dylan Thomas”. There’s a reason why a Limerick man like him would do that. He had his teeth kicked out by “a rugby boot filled with a large Irish policeman” and after his mouth was reconstructed, he apparently took elocution lessons. It’s why I had the greatest difficulty accepting that he was Irish at all, he sounds so thoroughly English!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Eamonn:

      Here’s what comes ot mind when reading about O’Toole’s broken teeth and jaw: a Jack Finney time travel story where we go back in time and O’Toole does not get his teeth kicked in, and ends up as a… fill in the blank. Love those what if time travel stories. That’s what attracted me to The Devil’s Arithmetic.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Bill Brandt
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I have to say something sacrilegious about Lawrence of Arabia. 

    It’s too freakin’ long.

    I would say that for some, accomplished screenwriters at least, can sit through the entire 4 hours absorbed in the work of other screenwriters and actors.

    For me after 2 hours I get a bit antsy.

    Maybe it is ADD.

    But I will say this about the movie and most David Lean films – for me, anyway, the cinematography stands out.

    Memorable scenes for me in the movie – the opening scene on his motorcycle.

    The scene of his leaving the Turkish police station (leaving the impression, at least with me, that it was a less-than-enjoyable experience)

    The panoramic scenes of him almost swallowed by the desert.

    The scene where, because of tribal rules, he is forced to shoot an Arab for a relatively minor infraction. (forget the infraction)

    But for me, too long.

    Perhaps, Robert, you would say that that was the time needed to tell the story.

    But you have to keep the attention of the audience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Bill:

      LOA is very long. I first saw it in a movie theater and was completely swept away by the experience. If you see this film on a TV screen — fuhggetaboutit. It just dies. This was the last film shot in 70 mm, and on the big screen it simply comes alive. But listen, I never argue taste. If you find it too long, well, that’s how it is. I do appreciate dissenting opinions. That’s half the fun of making these lists.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. kgbudge
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I find this movie problematic. I want to like it; the cinematography really is magnificent; but, in the end … no plot.

    Even Shakespeare, the greatest observer of human character the English-speaking world has ever produced, didn’t write any great plays that didn’t have some kind of plot to bring out the character of his characters.

    And: “Gay and with a taste for rough sex,”

    Perhaps this is correct, but you should be aware that this is disputed. There is another school of biography that believes Lawrence was basically asexual, but with a quirky fondness for shocking people, perhaps as a way to keep them away from his very private inner self.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      kbudge:

      As I said, no plot. The film seems to meander along a very strange narrative path. And yet, for me at least, it is marvelously coherent, the portrait of a deeply disturbed man who reached, quite desperately, for greatness.

      As for T.E.s sexuality. I have read and absorbed both schools of thought, and have come to the conclusion that he was homosexual.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • kgbudge
        Posted August 30, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        Your take on the movie sounds about right.
        I think I’d agree that Lawrence was not sexually normal, whatever the details.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      kbudge:

      After thinking about your comment regarding Lawrence’s alleged homosexuality, I have rewritten the sentence. I believe that I should be more circumspect. Thanks so much.

      P.S. There is no doubt that he paid a male soldier to whip him. 

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Posted August 29, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    This is a favorite though I confess I have never truly understood it. That said, Peter O’Toole is, IMO, one of the finest (and most under-rated) actors of our time.  Unique and loveable in his quirkiness.  My favorite role for him, however, is as King Henry II in “The Lion in Winter”; it is criminal that he lost the Oscar that year.  I never get tired of watching the counterplay between O’Toole and Hepburn; it’s positively brilliant.  Then again, TLIW is one of my favorite movies of all time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Barry
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Whatever Peter O’Toole is as an actor, underrated is not one of the tiems.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Robert J. Avrech
        Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Barry:

        O’Toole’s reputation as an actor has waxed and waned since he first blazed across the screen. Many consider much of his work to be self-parody. In short, he is not universally admired by the critics or the public.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        • Barry
          Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          Doesn’t make him under-rated. Possibly, just right.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      KrisinNewEngland:

      LOA is a difficult film because Lawrence is such a lunatic character. We certainly don’t love him, and we’re not really sure we admire what he does because the results are always soaked in moral ambiguity, not to mention blood. But his courage is undeniable and somehow, this gets us to see him as a tragically flawed hero.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • sennacherib
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:00 am | Permalink

      “Then again, TLIW is one of my favorite movies of all time.”. Mine too. It has a bunch of my favorite actors. I love O’Toole, but he’s one of those who really lights it up for me or there’s nothing.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Barry
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    This is a film produeced just as we were turning from entertainment to the tedium of the landscape. Lawrence is a sort of Robin Hood in reverse. Gay, colorless and defeated. Echhh! You know what I mean — the crowd that exits the “cinema” discussing backgrounds, scores and framing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Barry:

      I think you’re implying that those who admire LOA are intellectual elitists who eschew old fashioned ideas such as plot and character. This might be true. But my argument is that LOA is a unique film that transcends the narratives that I, at least, normally admire.

      Aside from Seven Samurai, I do not know of another film that has made such an impression on every Hollywood pro I know, from Spielberg to Coppola to Lucas.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      • Barry
        Posted August 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        Robert,
        Yes, and not implication. This is the beginning of the Terence Malick school of commercial filmmaking. How do these pepole raise money? No answer required. The Brikenstock crowd is in funds.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

        • Barry
          Posted August 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          Someone did not like my comment — does that mean someone on this thread is walking around with visible fungus on his/her feet…? Eeech!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  14. Posted August 29, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I loved Lawrence of Arabia.  I wanted to be a desert warrior, proud and serving only G-d…
    And then, reality occurred.
    I still love the movie but the money quote for me is now: ” Sherif Ali, so long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people, greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Moishe:

      Yes! The line you quote sums it all up.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. antoineclarke
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    One for a very big screen too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      antoine:

      LOA was the last film shot in 70mm. After that 70mm films were just blow-ups of 35mm stock. Lean really worked with the 70 mm frame, which as Sidney Lumet once told me, intimidated the best directors in the world. Sidney admitted he would never try it even if he had the chance. He said it emptied the frame of intimacy—except when Lean used it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Posted August 29, 2013 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    For me personally, this is probably the best example of the “I just don’t get it” scenario for a movie.
     
    I know *everyone* says “it’s a classic” and “no film library is complete without it”, but I’ve tried to watch it on several occasions and I *finally* made it through the whole movie a few years ago. In the end, I was left with the feeling of “that was 4 hours of my life I wish I could have back”.
     
    PJ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      ProphetJoe:

      I sympathize and understand. I never argue taste. Films are deeply personal.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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    Eighth: June 5, 2011
    Yossi Klein Halevi: “What is Expected of a Survivor People: Lessons My Father Taught Me.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 18MB)
    Seventh: June 13, 2010
    Dennis Prager: “Happiness is a Mitzvah, Not an Emotion.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 80MB)
    Sixth: June 21, 2009
    Rabbi Steven Pruzansky: “Conformity in Jewish Life: Vice, Virtue or Affectation?”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 64MB)
    Fifth: June 15, 2008
    Rabbi Dr. Gil S. Perl: “What Was the Rosh Yeshiva Reading: Intellectual Openness in 19th Century Lithuania.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 70MB)
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