Alphabetical Movie – Lawrence of Arabia
Some movies just need to be seen in a movie theatre.
As home video becomes more and more prevalent, it is hard to understand that movies are movies for a reason. Yes, I love watching films on my video screen at home.
But that experience is an entirely different one from watching a film projected on the big screen.
If you haven’t seen Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm, for instance, you haven’t really seen it at all.
In one remarkable shot, the camera simply focuses on the desert. The shot is held for a long time and nothing changes. Slowly, a figure becomes apparent in the distance and the shot is held as that figure grows.
I have a big projection TV at my house. Even on a screen that size, though, the moment lacks the impact it has on a movie screen.
Because projected in 70mm, you see the vastness of the desert and how small Lawrence is in contrast to it. That visual dichotomy is not lost in my living room but it is not as striking either.
You can love Lawrence of Arabia, and you should, but it is hard to really immerse yourself in the film until you’ve seen it projected.
Another movie that is completely transformed by the big screen is 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Like most people of my generation, I thought it was an interesting film. The middle second is very good. The beginning and end are tiresome and pointless.
Or are they?
When I watched the film in a movie theatre, I understood it on a completely different level. Kubrick didn’t make a film to be watched in my living room. He made a film to be watched in a theatre.
You can’t really comprehend what he was going for in the opening sequence with the apes until you see how isolated they are. You can’t feel the vastness of outer space unless you are completely engulfed in a darkened theatre. Even the final trip through the infinity of space and time works.
The film was literally transformed for me. Instead of appreciating it, I liked it.
Those classic films aside for a moment, think about watching The Lord of the Rings on the big screen. That was epic storytelling and a big screen feels epic.
Maybe movies like The King’s Speech or Silver Linings Playbook or even Casablanca don’t need a big screen to tell their story.
Surely Ben-Hur does. Surely Star Wars does.
To understand what a movie theatre truly adds to the experience, you need to have watched a movie in your living room first. I will always remember what The Lord of the Rings looked like in a theatre. I may never know what The Ten Commandments looks like in a theatre.
When I see Lawrence of Arabia now, I see it the way David Lean wanted me to see it. I see 2001 the way Stanley Kubrick wanted me to see it. That is what I see when I watch those films now. My view of them has been forever changed.
The market for film revivals is comparatively small. Why go out to watch Lawrence of Arabia when you can watch it on your 65″ flat screen?
Because Lawrence of Arabia wasn’t made to be viewed on your 65″ flat screen. It was made to be viewed in glorious 70mm. If the opportunity presents itself and you don’t take advantage, you will never see Lawrence of Arabia the way I do.