#333/ 365 – ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (1962) – 228 mins
IMDb Challenge #209 / 250 – Ranked #49 – DVD Collection
“He was the most extraordinary man I ever knew.”
Lawrence of Arabia tells the true story of T.E. Lawrence, a British soldier who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel during World War I and helped lead the Arab revolt against the Turks in 1917 and 1918.
Brought to the screen by one of the ‘kings’ of yesteryear epic filmmaking, David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia is a truly memorable film that rolls several stories into one , a historical drama, a war story, a human drama, and, most importantly, the life of a true hero, and Peter O’Toole performance in the title role is mesmerizing to watch.
Lawrence of Arabia also contains a very fine supporting cast of actors including Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quayle, and Claude Rains. But there’s another star of the film – the desert – captured by Freddie Young’s sublime cinematography, it contains many exquisite shots of sand dunes, sunrises, sunsets, and rocky cliffs.
The film runs at 222 minutes complete with six minutes of overture, but it never bores your interest in this extraordinary hero who showed a great deal of humanity, and this is best echoed in the scene when Lawrence turns back into a harsh desert just to find one lost man. The pace does lag slighty in the second half but the story is still great.
While Lawrence of Arabia does work on the small screen, for that all important aspect of any motion picture spectacle – the awe factor, you can only fully appreciate on that cinematic screen and this is where I would yearn to see this epic canvas on which Lean painted an epic picture.
#334/ 365 – ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941) – 119 mins
IMDb Challenge #210 / 250 – Ranked #37 – DVD Collection
When it comes to the subject of Citizen Kane, one question eclipses all others, Is it the greatest film ever made?
As a film, Citizen Kane is a powerful and dramatic portrayal of real life newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Through Charles Foster Kane it a classic tale about a man of great passion, vision, and greed, who ultimately pushes himself until he brings himself to ruin and to those all around him, and all this on a man who thought “it would be fun to run a newspaper.”
The compelling story routinely leaps back and forth in time as a reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) searches through vast newsreels, personal diaries and interviews with friends, enemies, ex-wives and employees trying to pin down the secret of Kane and decipher the meaning of his dying word – “Rosebud”.
There’s no doubt that Citizen Kane was far ahead of its time as visually the film is a marvel to behold, it’s a kaleidoscope of daring angles and sublime imagery that had never been attempted before, and maybe never been equaled since. From opening fog of Xanadu to the breakfast table marriage montage, every scene is meticulously constructed. It’s a film that inspired many visionary filmmakers in its wake, without it, there might not have been Scorsese, Hitchcock or Kubrick.
Orson Welles proved a wonder in his film debut, playing the title character, as well as producing, directing and co-writing the film — and all this at age of 25.
So is Citizen Kane the greatest movie ever made? Many critics around the globe continually shout “yes” without pause, but my enthusiasm is a little more restrained. Whilst I acknowledge that Citizen Kane is a masterpiece and essential viewing for the serious film lover, I just don’t think it’s the greatest motion picture of all time.
#335/ 365 – ‘The Shining’ (1980) – 119 mins
IMDb Challenge #211 / 250 – Ranked #48 – DVD Collection
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) has writer’s block, but his tactic of moving into an old hotel over winter with his wife and son brings out more than just the artistic demons in him…
The focal point of film is obviously Jack Nicholson’s “Here’s Johnny” performance of the man who slowly looses his grip on sanity and eventually breaks. Nicholson chews up the scenery with regularity and if there ever was an actor that can believably play “crazy”, it’s Nicholson. Nonetheless theres another star on show in the The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s direction. The combination of stunning set design and perfect shot selection to create the eerily haunted house atmosphere that descends around the Overlook Hotel.