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Law. of Arab.

Tuesday evening Colin, John and I had the privilege of seeing Lawrence of Arabia for the first time on a tremendous Cinerama screen. We all came into it with the knowledge that it would probably be good, and really long, and really epic. I can’t speak for the others, but at least I did not expect to be quite as blown away as I was.

If you do not already know, Lawrence of Arabia is the story of T.E. Lawrence, a British officer who finds his loyalties torn between his native peoples and the Arabian warriors with which he sympathizes. A recurring question is the film is, “who are you,” and Lawrence spends the film trying to find that answer.

The script is tight, calling for many epic sequences as well as plenty of humorous and emotional moments. Steven Spielberg considers it perhaps the greatest screenplay ever written, how can you argue with that?

All the actors are very strong in their roles. Peter O’Toole truly embodies his character, no other man could play Lawrence as well. Omar Sharif is outstanding as Lawrence’s best friend Sherif Ali. You could complain that it is not P.C. to have white actors playing non-white parts, but that’s the way they did things back then. Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn both look and sound Arabian as well, props to them.

The cinematography and editing are a big part of why the film is famous, and with good reason. Every frame is gorgeous. To see it in anything but widescreen would be a travesty. Some sequences are just awe-inspiring; how often can you saw that about a movie? Everything we see in the film, except for a few shots of the sun, is real. That might not seem like something that important to those who have not seen it before, but when you know everything that unfolds its quite incredible. This is a movie that could not be done with special effects and computers toady.

The editing is inspired, to say the least. Some of the scene changes are just awesome. Lawrence blowing out the match cutting to a sunrise, the long shot of the retaking of Aqaba, the use of direct cutting. If you have aspirations of becoming an editor, or really any job in film, this is a required viewing.

But you probably already knew all this, didn’t you, you smart Cat Fancy reader? You know that films like this are often surrounded with hyperbole. Well this is one case where it’s definitely all true. The movie is nearly four hours long but there isn’t a boring moment. Honestly, Lawrence of Arabia is probably the best film I have had the privilege of seeing on the big screen. If you ever get a similar opportunity, take it.

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