Thursday, February 17, 2011

Battle of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 1962

In the long stream of Academy Award winners, there are either the films no one keeps in popular memory (like the WHAT? worthy film next on the list for 1963, Tom Jones. Seriously, what is this?) or the ones that continue to roll off any movie critics tongue at the drop of a hat; Lawrence of Arabia is the latter, and continues to be deemed as one of the best movies ever made.

When faced with watching a movie for the first time, and it is well known that there is a powerful, all around (from both professional critics and the general populous) positive buzz surrounding a movie, there is instantly a pressure to love whatever is about to be seen.

Although, when it gets right down to it, sometimes the trend needs to be broken. It's not that I didn't love many aspects of Lawrence of Arabia, but there were numerous things that had me questioning, "Am I just out of my mind, or is this confusing as hell?"

It is very hard to admit being confused by a movie that is internationally doted on, but I come to speak the truth.

The plot focuses on true events during WWI, that found British officer, T. E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) sent from Cairo further into the Arab world to work with them on a revolt against the Turkish army. There are numerous different Arab groups, and it is never really clear what is happening or what is supposed to be going on throughout the movie.

Maybe this is just me, but I think it's important to have some specific details in these types of epic war movies, otherwise it gets muddled and more time is spent trying to tie everything together. The story is presented as if everyone already knows what happened during this conflict, and we are just given the Sparknotes version. I guess I should have taken more history classes, because I know just about nothing concerning WWI.

However, missing details is really the only thing that can even, remotely, knock down Lawrence.

Even with a semi messy story, the battle scenes and several train explosions create an exciting movie at times. Emotional elements also keep the movie going, as these people struggles for their survival, not only in a time of war, but in a place that dares you to stay alive; the beautiful yet barren Arabian desert. 

Director David Lean, not only filmed a movie, he was capturing life as art. Truly sweeping shots of the expansiveness of deserts and endless shots of sunrises and sunsets, make this one of the most majestic looking movies I have ever laid my eyes on.

Even more famous than the visuals is what was used to enhance the scenery; a score by master composer Maurice Jarre. Music, to me, always makes the movie, even to the point of, I could list many movies I love even more just because of the score. Nerdy, yes, but something that comes from the heart of a lifelong violinist.

For some reason I have never heard of this Jarre guy, which is insane, because after IMDB'ing him, he was the composer for many scores in my hall of fame. Doctor Zhivago! Dead Poets Society! Even Prancer, for crying out loud! Dude is a legend.

Speaking of Doctor Zhivago, another connection between these two films is the actor I can't get away from; Omar Sharif. He is greatly featured in practically every movie that has impressed me this year (Funny Girl, and Zhivago, most notably), and is one of my favorite actors to discover (also, Greer Garson).

Even with all the utterly lovable notions, will I be watching this again anytime soon? No, and not for a long while. On the other hand, if I owned a classy old movie theater to show this in, I would put my bum front row of the balcony, in a dusty, old, crushed velvet seat in a heartbeat. We can all dream.

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