Monday, January 07, 2013

Update; Lawrence of Arabia

Hey there!  Hope everyone had a good weekend.  Ours was pretty good, although I was sick with a cold on Friday and Saturday.  That definitely kept the weekend a little more mellow than usual.
It was relaxing, though, and I got some much needed rest.  Amy did quite a bit of cooking, and I benefitted from her efforts.  She made a sort of salmon dish with a sort of avocado/mustard puree that was really, really good.  She also made her tinga chicken, which was also excellent.  She baked some dangerously addictive black and white cookies which were the best I've ever had, and she made breakfast on Sunday morning with eggs and lots of bacon- some of which went into a sort of sweet potato soup that she's bound to take to lunch this week.

Not feeling well, I spent much of Saturday taking it pretty easy.  I did manage to join Amy for a quick trip to the store, but other from that I rested.

Since I was feeling better, on Sunday we took Cassidy to Auditorium Shores so she could get some sunshine and exercise.  After a number of cold, cloudy days, it was really nice to get out.  Afterward I went for a short bike ride and tested out this new Strava app on my iPhone (I updated to an iPhone 4S over Christmas).  Strava measures things like your average speed and elevation changes and the maximum speed that you hit during your ride.  If you want to, you can download it all into your computer and compare it against other people who have ridden the same section or segment of road that you've just completed.  I'm not all that interested in getting into online competition against other people, but I like the fact that Strava measures elevation changes and stores data from past rides so you can observe your progress (or lack of progress) over time.

Sunday night Mono Ensemble had practice.  We're trying to get ready for our gig at The Carousel on the 19th.  Everyone made it to practice, and we're pulling some songs together.  It was nice to have everyone there.

Over Saturday and Sunday nights Amy and I watched Lawrence of Arabia.  It's one of my favorite movies of all time, and Amy got me a 50th anniversary collector's edition of the film on blu ray for Christmas. This, especially for me, was a really cool gift!  It comes with a book about the making of the movie and a documentary and the art that just looks really great.
Anyway, Amy had never seen the film, and I hadn't seen it in a while.  The print and the restoration make for an incredible looking blu ray.  The movie has sweeping desert landscapes, panoramic views, and cinematography that drives home the movie's epic themes in a way that few others have been able to accomplish.  In an era when we've grown used to computer generated backgrounds, characters, and scenery, it's amazing to look at a film involving the scenery and scale of Lawrence and Arabia and realize that everything on the screen was actually shot with physical objects, people, and locations.  Watching the movie, it's hard to believe that we haven't lost some of the awe and wonder involved in old school filmmaking through the use of our modern, digital movie assembly techniques.
So I love the way Lawrence of Arabia looks.  I like the story and the acting even more.  Every time I watch the film I get drawn in by Lawrence's story arc.  His journey from swaggering, idealistic, naive adventurer to self styled divine prophet and finally to scarred, damaged, and wizened veteran is a fascinating transition to observe.  Woven into this narrative are complicated issues regarding Lawrence's relationship with Arab culture (both as it actually exists and the perhaps more romanticized version that Lawrence sometimes imagines) and Lawrence's discomfort his own English heritage.  
Peter O'Toole's infuses Lawrence with a mixture of eccentricity, cunning, bravado, and vulnerability that few if any other actors could have delivered.  I love the movie, in part, because of the way that the audience gets to see Lawrence's character genuinely change over time.
The supporting cast is, of course, superb as well.  Alec Guiness's Prince Faisel turns out to be a leader whose sophisitication and intellect belie initial suppositions of what one might expect from the leader of a people that the English (and perhaps the audience?) see as "greedy, barabrous, and cruel".  Omar Sharif, playing Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish, first appears in the film seeming to be a capriciously violent, somewhat backward tribesman, but by the end of the film it is Ali who exhorts Lawrence to avoid a needless massacre of the Turks and to carry on with the more lofty and pragmatic goal of marching on Damascus (pleadings which Lawrence, the once civilized Englishman, ignores).
The film is 216 minutes long.  It has an intermission.  Setting an epic tone, the opening theme plays to a blank screen for several minutes before any action takes place on screen.  The movie was shot in Jordan, Morocco, and Spain, among other locations, and judging by the look of the terrain, filming must have been difficult.  There were problems with everything ranging from stubborn camels to surly Moroccan troops (who played Turks in the movie).  Simply given the size and scope of the film, especially given the desert locations, it must have been a logistical nightmare.  David Lean's directorial choices seem to suggest that his attitude toward the film's creation was perhaps inspired by the character of Lawrence himself- insisting that the impossible is not only possible, but can be accomplished to grand effect by a person who has the audacity to earnestly and tenciously try.
I love the movie. 
Thanks to Amy for getting it for me and watching it with me.  I look forward to watching the bonus features!           

So that's it for now.  Hope you all had a nice weekend!

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