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Lawrence of Arabia


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 12:39 AM

Every 8 months to a year or so, I watch Lawence of Arabia to remind myself of the reason I wanted to become a filmmaker in the first place. I saw the restored, completely uncut version of it again last night projected in my screening room w/ dolby surround sound thumping. I wasn't going to watch it but the overture had started and I sat down thinking " I'll just watch a little of it and go finish what I was doing" . Ya right! Everytime I see this film it's like I'm seeing it again for the first time.

The more I learn about filmmaking, the more I truely start to apreiciate the phenomenal prefection of this film. The editing, the color pallet, the preformances, the cinematography, the sound design, the costumes and of course the flawless direction of David Lean. I saw things I had seen before but never noticed. The exquisite use if depth of field to enhance several scenes. The brilliant use of the color pallet to help convey the story. the truely inspired artistry of the editing, The subtly nuanced preformances of the brilliant actors in the masterpiece. This is filmmaking at absolute pinnacle of the cinematic art.

I've heard the Steven Spielberg watchs this movie along with a few others before he begins directing new project. I personally feel this should be a requirement for every filmmaker before beginning a film.

Any filmmaker worth his salt should look at this picture and say to themselves " This is the kind of skill I want to bring to my picture. These are the hieghts I want to aspire to." and settle for no less that attemping to achieve that kind of perfect filmmaking.

Are there any other films out there that inspire you, the way this one inspires me?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 01:02 AM

Depends on the project as to where I seek inspiration cinematography-wise, but for general filmmaking, "Lawrence of Arabia", "2001", Dr. Strangelove", "Seven Samurai", "Close Encounters" are always at the top of the list, films I wish I had made.
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 08:21 AM

Depends on the project as to where I seek inspiration cinematography-wise, but for general filmmaking, "Lawrence of Arabia", "2001", Dr. Strangelove", "Seven Samurai", "Close Encounters" are always at the top of the list, films I wish I had made.


They're kind of like Mozart aren't they? They register so naturally in the soul that one gets the feeling that if God were to make films they'd look like your examples.

By the way, "Northfork" is going to be on HDNet movies in April - now if I can only figure out how to get my AVID Express Pro HD to record it off DirecTV - "Northfork" in 1080i! :)
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#4 Max Jacoby

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 08:39 AM

'Stalker', 'Andrei Rublev', 'Snow Falling on Cedars' and 'Elephant' are films that are a great inspiration and that I watch regularly.
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#5 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 09:09 AM

I saw the restored version at the Marble Arch Odeon in London (it once had a huge screen but has now sadly been broken up into smaller screens) in my early 20s and was really affected by it's magnitude. The classic mirage shot with Omar Sheriff's entrance is one of the few times a single shot has made the hair stand up on the back of my neck! I had seen some of the restoration happening as my brother-in law had worked on the sound-dubbing so it made it a little bit more special as I felt a little bit closer to it!

... I sneaked into the first night of Raging Bull when I was 15 and came out pretty stunned by the experience. I knew from that day that film was for me. Seeing Apocalypse Now was a similar experience and having seen it again recently it is still an incredible film (have you seen the redux version? - all the cut scenes were cut out originally for the right reasons - they added nothing really).

I'd second David M's choices and would add Godfather part 2, Full Metal Jacket and Come and See (I think all 'late teenagers should see this to see what war and racial hatred is all about). They are probably only a handful of films that really stand up to many viewings. I'd also add the Ipress file as I love the angles and lighting throughout the film.

nb - I notice 'audiris' added Elephant - you should really see the BBC film Van Sant tooks the title from. The late Director Alan Clarke (Scum, Rita Sue and Bob Too) made this towards the end of his career. It's a 40 minute film with no dialogue, just recreations of random killings from the Northern Ireland conflict... A man watching tv in his living room with wife and kids. A gunman walks into his house, shoots him dead then walks out. A minicab driver is killed at the Wheel, two boys are playing football, a stranger approaches them, kills one of them and walks off... It is very powerful stuff and really shows the futility and cruelty of the troubles. There is no politics, no diatribes - it just shows it how it is (and thankfully now it is in the past...) The film has only been shown once on Tv over here and probably never will be again - though it should be it is the ultimate reminder of the pointless sectarian violence...

Rupe Whiteman.
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 05:15 PM

I have seen the Alan Clarke 'Elephant', it is on the French DVD edition of the other 'Elephant' . To be honest I thought Gus Van Sant's film to be better though.
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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 05:47 PM

Films that inspire me:

Alfred Hitchcock's 'Shadow of a Doubt'

Truffaut's 'The 400 Blows' (would watch it regularly if a friend hadn't lost my DVD)

'The Black Narcisus'

Rene Clement's 'Plein Soliel' (The french version of the talented Mr Ripley)

'Empire of the Sun'

'The Devils Backbone'

Ozu's 'Ohayo'

Rosselini's 'Voyage to Italy'

Of course other films appeal to me in different ways for example I think 'HP & the Prisoner of Azkaban' is one of the most elegantly put together film i've seen, but at the other end of scale - something like Winterbottom's 'In this World' is the sort of film I would like to aspire to. On the other hand if ever ill (or resting with a brocken collar-bone like recently) those Godfather films are a sure bet for quality viewing.
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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 01:22 AM

Rupe W, there is no other version than Redux. That first thing was a stuidio atraucity. It's like trying to make the Starry Night more realistic by taping a photo of a tree onto the hill or painting out a few deciples from the Last Supper to make the time it takes to look at it shorter. This movie is another one I only watch one or twice a year because it literally takes me a couple of days to get over the expirence. The cinematography in Apocalypse is beyond great, it is the best I have ever seen. It is .... there are no words.

Coppalla did something here that I have never seen anyone do before. He actually managed to capture a nightmare with all the vivid colors and beauty and terror on film. The juxiposition between sanity and insanity, both existing side by side. I've never seen another film that effected me quite the way this one does. The images or magical yet so rooted in reality it's scarry. I've never seen a fantasy film that was able to do that and here they are in a war film, although this really isn't a war film or an anti war film, it transends both those genras and becomes something else. Something unique in the annals of Amarican filmmaking. Just thinking about it gives me the chills.

Edited by Capt.Video, 28 March 2006 - 01:23 AM.

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#9 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 02:48 AM

Rupe W, there is no other version than Redux. That first thing was a stuidio atraucity. It's like trying to make the Starry Night more realistic by taping a photo of a tree onto the hill or painting out a few deciples from the Last Supper to make the time it takes to look at it shorter. This movie is another one I only watch one or twice a year because it literally takes me a couple of days to get over the expirence. The cinematography in Apocalypse is beyond great, it is the best I have ever seen. It is .... there are no words.

Coppalla did something here that I have never seen anyone do before. He actually managed to capture a nightmare with all the vivid colors and beauty and terror on film. The juxiposition between sanity and insanity, both existing side by side. I've never seen another film that effected me quite the way this one does. The images or magical yet so rooted in reality it's scarry. I've never seen a fantasy film that was able to do that and here they are in a war film, although this really isn't a war film or an anti war film, it transends both those genras and becomes something else. Something unique in the annals of Amarican filmmaking. Just thinking about it gives me the chills.


Yes - it's a fantastic movie that gets better with each viewing - but not the redux version! - the additional scenes don't add they just draw it out too much and for me the original version is the best. I gues we'll have to agree to disagree!
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#10 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 10:04 PM

But in the studio version If I not mistaken, The whole sequence where the French appear like ghosts out of the mist was deleted. That sequence alone, the ghosts of the past that have come back to haunt Willard and the others he's taking to meet terror incarnate, is utter genius. We can agree to disagree, but we do strongly disagree. The things left out in the studio version and restored in Redux are the differance between a decient movie and a masterpiece. On this point we could not be further apart, but so be it. If you've seen both versions and have decided on the studio version, there's nothing I can say that will make any difference. It's all up there on the screen, and if that doesn't speak to you nothing can say will.
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#11 Max Jacoby

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 02:34 AM

Calling 'Apocalypse Now' merely a 'decent' movie in its original form is a bit of a stretch, isn't it? You're forgetting about all the great scenes that were in there already.
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#12 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 03:15 AM

Perhaps your right. It is a great movie, even in it's studio form. But it only becomes a masterpiece with Coppola's version.
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#13 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:24 AM

That sequence alone, the ghosts of the past that have come back to haunt Willard and the others he's taking to meet terror incarnate, is utter genius.


Maybe so, but sometimes a good director knows to cut moments of genius, kill their babies if you like, for purposes of pacing and to allow the story to flow better.

I think though it has very good qualities the french plantation scenes work less well than the added playboy bunnies scene in the helicopter. The scene round the dinner table is so slow when the story feels like it should be speeding up.
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#14 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 12:11 PM

Maybe so, but sometimes a good director knows to cut moments of genius, kill their babies if you like, for purposes of pacing and to allow the story to flow better.

I think though it has very good qualities the french plantation scenes work less well than the added playboy bunnies scene in the helicopter. The scene round the dinner table is so slow when the story feels like it should be speeding up.


... the added scenes are all shot with same storarro/cast/crew mastery and do add some back story but I agree - again they water down the tight original cut.

The film becomes self-indulgent in the redux form. You don't miss the plantation scene, you don't miss the extra playboy bunnies scene - in fact re-introducing them waters down the effect and surreal nature of the stage scenes - the film becomes more conventional in my opinion.

The original cut is driven along by the way Willard is sucked along the river to Kurtz and his crazy compound. The extra scenes dissipate the tension and for me this a good reason for Murch and Coppola for cutting them originally, fullstop. Also there is a very palpable tension between Willard and the pbs crew throughout as he is the one who has seen the dark side - where as they are regular kids, with the exception of the boat Chief (forgotten his name) who is nobly trying to steer (excuse the pun) his crew of kids through the War to survival on the other side - the extra scenes again dissipate the tension between them and Willard which is a key element of how the film works: this tension directly plays off of the tension of Willard being drawn into confronting Kurtz...

You can understand totally why these scenes were originally shot but not incorporating them in the original version was the right thing to do. In the redux version you get superfluous dialogue about Kilgore's stolen surfboard before the mango scene - again you just don't need it.

Economy of storytelling is key in great film-making so the original cut works best!... I wonder if Coppolla had other reasons for adding the scenes for his own cut which is the redux!? filthy lucre perhaps? (again understandable...)

Enjoying the banter...

nb you can't call the original cut the studio cut can you?! - didn't Coppola bank-roll much of it himself by mortgaging the family home (several times) and seeing as they spent 18months cutting it has to be his cut... no?!

Rupe Whiteman
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#15 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 04:11 PM

The film becomes self-indulgent in the redux form.


Carefull your starting controversy now! ;)

It depends weather you don't mind sitting through a longer movie watching equally good stuff - the big thing about movies is that they are 90 min - 120min, and anything longer is considered long or extravegent or even self indulgent. I personally don't mind the extra scenes, in the end they are equally as good but perhaps detract from the journey. I heard that the producer of The Godfather encouraged Coppola to extend the cut of the Godfather saying 'you had an epic novel now make an epic movie.' - But it comes down to taste I personally can't sit through Lord of the Rings but found 6 hours of 'The Best of Youth' the best 6 hours I've ever spent in a cinema.
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#16 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 04:20 PM

Carefull your starting controversy now! ;)

It depends weather you don't mind sitting through a longer movie watching equally good stuff - the big thing about movies is that they are 90 min - 120min, and anything longer is considered long or extravegent or even self indulgent. I personally don't mind the extra scenes, in the end they are equally as good but perhaps detract from the journey. I heard that the producer of The Godfather encouraged Coppola to extend the cut of the Godfather saying 'you had an epic novel now make an epic movie.' - But it comes down to taste I personally can't sit through Lord of the Rings but found 6 hours of 'The Best of Youth' the best 6 hours I've ever spent in a cinema.


... The movie was already long to start with! a self-indulgent movie can be 5 minutes long in the wrong hands... the length of a film is irrelevant - its the narrative, emotion and storytelling that is the point. Sure the additional scene were as well made as the rest of the film but I feel that they ultimately detract from the central premise and driving themes of the original cut of the movie... anyway we're going round in circles... it's still a wonderful movie!

nb David Lean said of a movie "why make it shorter when you can make it longer!" and he is one of the greats...
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#17 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 04:54 PM

nb David Lean said of a movie "why make it shorter when you can make it longer!" and he is one of the greats...


Well of course length is irrelivent if its good and sustains your interest, which both versions of Apocolypse are.

And though David Lean's statement may have been his undoing I agree with him to an extent.

However students in filmschools are repeatedly told to cut things and make things shorter, sometimes irrelevent of the material and then latter as real filmmakers are critised for making films too long by critics and cinema owners. If you web search the reviews for the previously mentioned 'Best of Youth' you will notice they will all start with the fact the film is 6 hours long. So we do have an obssesion about length, like the misconception pointed out earlier that the shorter cut of Apocalypse was a harsh studio cut.

Of course on practicle grounds you would wish films were shorter if your six feet four, like me, and your losing blood in your legs just as the hobbits are looking mysteriously into Mordor in yet another slow motion shot.

Anyway lets stop this circular conversation and start talking about our most inspiring movies again. How about Mean Streets.
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#18 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 01:08 AM

A story takes whatever time It takes to tell. The reason 90 minute is the standard is boxoffice pure and simple. Theater owners wanted to turn adiences around as fast as possible without the audiance feeling cheated. 90 minutes seams to be the golden number. It's just good business. I can respect that but there are some things that transend business and this film is one of them. We have become a society od ADD addicts. Fast everything! I'm surprised sex isn't timed with a stopwatch, although, for some of us, maybe it could be. How can you call these added scenes extrainious? They are absolutely nessesary to telling this story the way Coppola intended it to be told.

He was one of the first, if not THEE first, to offer a director's cut, bucause he couldn't stand the way the studio had raped his masterpiece in thier narrow-minded, money grubbing, ubserdly-cautious stupidity. Without the scenes included in the Redux version, this film becomes too linear, you miss the complexity inherent in the Vietnam conflict that was incapsulated in Coppola's film. This film is about good and evil and insanity and professionalism and loss of innocence and hell and heaven and so much more I can't even list it all. The Playboy sequences are essential to understanding the depravity of what is happening to them. Note the one person who dosen't participate is the Chief. Ask youself why. Ask yourself why the French appear out of the mist. Ask youself why the Bunnies agree to trade sex for gasoline. Ask yourself why these other scenes were included after Coppola bought the picture back. This is not a linear story, it is medaphoric from the first frame to the last. Without these scenes the Marrianis Trench depth of this film is lost. Quicker is not always better,...just ask your girlfriend.

Mean Streets, Good film, not Scorsese's best.

Edited by Capt.Video, 30 March 2006 - 01:11 AM.

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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 01:14 PM

Coppola cut BOTH versions, the original and the Redux version. The first version was not recut by the studio (it was under the control of HIS studio after all, Zoetrope). They just represent a difference in artistic opinion by him over time. The first version is not some sort of emasculated, "raped" studio-took-it-away-from-me situation, more of a I-better-finish-the-edit-and-start-recouping-the-costs time problem.

Personally, I prefer the original version. All the attempts to humanize Willard in the Redux version only serve to make the movie more ordinary, more commercial, less mystical and abstract -- if anything, the Redux version seems like what a studio would typically do to a movie ("we need a few more laughs" "make Willard more likable" "add more sex", etc.), the only exception being the argument around the dinner table, but even that is partially an old-fashioned exposition scene to clarify the political history of Vietnam.

But if anything, all you can say is that both versions are similar more than different, so it is silly to suggest that the original was not a masterpiece but the Redux version is.
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#20 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 02:09 PM

Coppola cut BOTH versions, the original and the Redux version. The first version was not recut by the studio (it was under the control of HIS studio after all, Zoetrope). They just represent a difference in artistic opinion by him over time. The first version is not some sort of emasculated, "raped" studio-took-it-away-from-me situation, more of a I-better-finish-the-edit-and-start-recouping-the-costs time problem.

Personally, I prefer the original version. All the attempts to humanize Willard in the Redux version only serve to make the movie more ordinary, more commercial, less mystical and abstract -- if anything, the Redux version seems like what a studio would typically do to a movie ("we need a few more laughs" "make Willard more likable" "add more sex", etc.), the only exception being the argument around the dinner table, but even that is partially an old-fashioned exposition scene to clarify the political history of Vietnam.

But if anything, all you can say is that both versions are similar more than different, so it is silly to suggest that the original was not a masterpiece but the Redux version is.


Exactly... your point about the mystical element is dead right... Hope your shoot is going well...

Rupe Whiteman
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