Lawrence of Arabia. Ridiculously spectacular, most especially the visuals and the acting. Lots of good laugh lines, too. I’m very grateful I got to see this on a big theater screen. I didn’t realize the new 4K restoration was showing in Atlanta until a few hours beforehand. Totally lucked out. What a great experience.
Also, David Lean? This, Doctor Zhivago, and Brief Encounter? There’s a resume for you. I need see some more of his work.
Doctor Zhivago. Beautifully set, shot, and acted, but know that this is pure soap opera. That said, after a little warm-up, I was rapt for the first two hours. The last hour is weaker. Just set your skeptic filters low and let yourself get swept away. It’s a great cast of imperfect people. Our hero, Omar Sharif, is a little annoying. The reliable Rod Steiger is a perfect asshole. Julie Christie is tough, and in her role as Lara is maybe the most attractive modestly-dressed character I’ve seen on film. Frumpy Russian winterwear never looked so good. Perfect lighting helps. Anyway, Ebert calls it “an example of superb old-style craftsmanship at the service of a soppy romantic vision, and although its portentous historical drama evaporates once you return to the fresh air, watching it can be seductive”. I would watch it again.
Brief Encounter. This was pretty good. I enjoyed it. It’s about an affair between two people, pretty tame by today’s standards. But that was a different era. Here’s a Criterion essay. And I got a couple semi-related thoughts:
One of the most enjoyable things about old/foreign movies is that I often don’t know the cast. It can feel more immediately immersive to see the characters as characters, rather than recognizing actors and trying to set aside that I know they’re portraying people. There’s no baggage, no expectations, no known quirks or ticks. It all feels very fresh.
This movie’s soundtrack relies heavily on Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a few sections in particular. I wonder what it would be like, instead of scoring a film, to film a score. That is, take some work of music and make a movie such that every bit of imagery fits or bolsters (or undermines, why not?) the music in some way. Like Fantasia, I guess, but live-action and only focusing on one piece of music. Is there anything else in that vein? At the least, it would be an interesting constraint on the filming.