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A Few Words About While we wait for A few words about...™ Lawrence of Arabia -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Those who may not be versed in pre-production and production, may not fully understand, but Mr. Fowlie, affected more films in major ways during this career than one might imagine. One might consider the director, cinematographer, production designer, but it was Eddie who found some of the most important locations and created some of the most memorable sets in our memory. Mr. Turner is fully aware of this.

    RAH
     
  2. Brianruns10

    Brianruns10 Well-Known Member

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    There's a theatre in my area that has a couple of Century JJ 35/70s. I'm in touch with the theatre's owners, and hope soon to have a plan for restoring the theatre's 70mm functionality. It seems much of the hardware is in place, just a matter of making sure everything can properly handle and project a 70mm print with maximum quality, and protection against damage.

    My goal is to screen Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm for it's 50th Anniversary, in 2012 or 2013!

    BR
     
  3. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Well-Known Member

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    RE:

    "Read the uncut 1922 version of TEL's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, available via Michael Wilson's Castle Hill Press.

    Also suggested is The Mint."


    The Mint is an amazing book; strongly recommended from this corner. Don't know if Norton still has it in print, but they printed it in paper in the early 70s, when I read it (as an undergraduate), and have not forgotten it. What a strange man Laurence (Aircraftman Shaw) was, but what a great writer. Still have not got around to Seven Pillars, so perhaps that will have to wait upon retirement, along with all the other things one wants to do but hasn't the time for. Incidentally, Laurence shows up briefly in Robert Graves memoir, Goodbye to All That, looking for odd and out of the way words to put into Seven Pillars. World War One seems so incredibly far away now, not just in time, but in terms of attitudes, assumptions. I feel that Lean and Bolt were probably closer to that world than anyone can ever be again, since their generation was what? about one and half after the WWI soldiers? Looking forward to the eventual blu-ray of LOA.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    For those who need a push toward acquiring a copy of Mr. Fowlie's book, the following extract re: Bridge on the River Kwai may whet the appetite:


    The famous scene of the bridge blowing up and the train careening to its destruction was real, not a mockup. We only got one shot at it, understandably, as there wasn’t enough time or money to build another bridge. Inside the carriages I had 300 rubber Japanese soldiers placed with guns, in case the carriages burst open. A demolition company from the UK came over to demolish the bridge following David’s strict instructions. The explosion had to look real and last long enough to get sufficient footage.

    There were many points to consider, not the least the angle at which the train should fall. It was also made very clear that there should be no flames, smoke or far-fetched fireballs. In real life, when a building is brought down with explosives if collapses in almost slow motion instead of exploding in a hail of flames and debris (this is a point missed on many modern film directors who are invariably obsessed with creating ridiculous, computer enhanced blasts). We positioned five cameras in five different points to give the editing crew a variety of angles to choose from. Each had to switch the trigger light on the control panel, giving a signal to the director that the camera was running the operator was safe. There was another light which the train driver had to operate when he jumped off at the crucial moment before the explosives were detonated. The main control panel was located at a safe distance from the main camera with David close by. At the far end of the bridge there was a long track, with an uphill gradient leading to a sand trap. This was intended to stop the unmanned train in the unlikely event that the bridge had not been blown up. Everybody in their places, the order was given to start the operation. Four lights came on and then the driver’s. As the train came onto the bridge, David suddenly spotted that one of the lights had not been switched on and did not give the order to detonate. The train shot over the bridge at full speed, up the gradient and through the sand drag, collecting a big truck and the generator along the way. Peter and I were the first on the scene and found the steaming train sitting upright, it wheels dug deep in the jungle floor.

    After a few minutes Sam turned up in his car. It was difficult to gauge his reaction, but he was either in deep shock or dead calm. I have to admit to feeling admiration for him as he uttered his first words to us. “My boys, how long before we get it ready again?” With all the right railway equipment and workers it didn’t take long to slip some track under it and shunt it back. It wasn’t all tickety-boo, though. After Sam left us, he marched back and summarily fired the camera operator who had failed to turn on his light switch, even though his camera had been running. He was an experienced and well-known operator, whom David knew and trusted. Unfazed by the poor man’s blunder, David quietly reinstated him and him and took him out to dinner that same night. After the nerve jangling experience, we were all even more wary of making any further mistakes.

    To my surprise, David asked me to drive the train for the second attempt. Apparently, the driver had got cold feet about driving the thing. Relieved he would no longer be risking his life, he was more than happy to give me a crash course on how to drive the locomotive to oblivion. I had the light switch and the sandbag shelter in which I was to dive when I bailed out moved almost to the beginning of the bridge. This gave me a few more precious seconds to jam the throttle lever open once I had set the right speed. It also gave me a pretty good close-up view of the bridge going down. Getting the timing right was a matter of life and death. Too late and I would end up in pieces amid tons of twisted wreckage at the bottom of the river; too early and we would ruin the shot. I set off inside the train, and this time I had the unique view from the driver’s cabin, looking down on the river some thirty metres below as the bridge rushed up to meet me. The train picked up speed and I waited to the last possible moment before jamming the lever. I dived on the sandbags and watched as the train clattered by, followed by an almighty bang as the dynamite went off. In an instant, the bridge which had taken us months to construct collapsed in a twisted heap. Still breathless, I shook myself down and looked down below, feeling mixed emotions. I was relieved the operation had been a success but also felt a twinge of sadness at seeing all the destruction. We had one final “special effects” scene in which the commandos were to set the explosive charges to the bridge support. We shot it during the day and filtered the lens to make it look like night time. Setting up the dynamite was fine and as I surfaced I saw David looking down on me, smiling. By the glint in his eye, I knew what he was thinking.

    “Bloody millionaires stuff!” I remarked - we were just grown-up boys after all, playing games with loads of cash.

    Many years later, while staying in a hotel in Westwood Village in LA, I went for a drink in the bar noticed a frail-looking man hunched on the chair at a corner table. He looked over and suddenly stood up and walked over to me. “Your Eddie,” he said with a smile. Surprised that this man knew my name and curious as to who he was, I struggled to recognize him but I was saved my blushes. He thrust his hand out and introduced himself. “It’s me, Bill Holden.” I was shocked. The ravages of time and alcohol has sadly taken their toll on him, but I tried to not let it show my face. I greeted him warmly and gave the impression that I had recognized him. What amazed me even more is that he knew who I was despite my hair having gone entirely white since I had seen him last. I never saw him again and was deeply saddened when I heard a few years later that he died in such a sad and lonely circumstances. The death of Burt Lancaster also affected me in a similar way. Both actors were larger than life individuals.
     
  5. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    Whetted. It's in my cart.
     
  6. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    "My rare visits to the cinema always deepen in me a sense of their superficial falsity. The camera seems wholly in place as journalism; but when it tries to recreate, it boobs and sets my teeth on edge. So there won't be a film of me."
    T.E. Lawrence. 1935. :)
     
  7. 24fpssean

    24fpssean Well-Known Member

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    Would love to get Eddie Fowlie's book! He was there on nearly every major motion picture from Britain, even quite a few that were not David Lean films. The man in interviews has an amazing sense of humor, I hope I'm that wry at the age.

    On a side note, I just received my copy of the new complete score of LAWRENCE released on Tadlow Music CDs, with Nic Raine conducting! (since the original music slates were thrown out by Columbia in the 70's, only a few cues from the album and the end titles, pulled right from the film, could be used as a soundtrack CD).I was moved to tears by it, the sonics are lush and gorgeous, all the exotic orchestral color can be heard and they even had choruses sing the war chant, both men and women. A glorious album with wonderful liner notes and a great bonus CD that every LOA fan should have. I cannot praise it enough.
     
  8. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Well-Known Member

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    Sounds neat. Anyone know a decent US source for that?
     
  9. Guest

    I saw those there too! I mentioned seeing LoA there at the time on some online forum (I think not this one?), and Mr. Harris wrote back to me thanking me for saying how great it looked and that he wasn't aware the restored LoA had been showing in Indy.

    Like some others, I also first saw it in 1989-- at the wonderful Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL.
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Quote:
    Which has been, as I recall, the theater used for EbertFest.

    RAH
     
  11. Brianruns10

    Brianruns10 Well-Known Member

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    Yay! Ebertfest. Sadly Robert I was not able to attend when you were there to show "My Fair Lady." But I've seen Hamlet and Baraka in 70mm, and there are in the top ten theatre experiences of my life. Gotta love those dual DP70s, and the great, skilled techs who operate them.

    Now if I can just convince them to show "Ryan's Daughter."
     
  12. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    What time of year is Ebertfest?
     
  13. Craig S

    Craig S Premium
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    Ebertfest is in the spring - 4/27 - 5/1 this year. All the info you need is here:

    http://www.ebertfest.com/

    I have never been, but hope to make it up there someday.
     
  14. Brianruns10

    Brianruns10 Well-Known Member

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    Craig, you really must go when you get a chance. That festival is everything good and pure about film. No Sundance film festival political bullshit. Just a group of films Ebert likes, and thinks you'd like too. Sometimes you find a masterpiece, sometimes it's a dud, but all have merit. The projection is top notch, and it's one of the few opportunities to see a 70mm film, as well as a silent film with live orchestra. It's a fest that depends on returning patrons year after year, so every time you go, you see old friends.

    Alas, I probably will miss this year, after four consecutive years, since I'm starting a new documentary, and money is tight. I'm gonna cry if they show Lawrence of Arabia or some other great 70mm flick this year.
     
  15. ShellOilJunior

    ShellOilJunior Well-Known Member

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    Some news on the restoration:
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/restored-lawrence-arabia-clips-hpa-290677
     
  16. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Well-Known Member

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  17. ShellOilJunior

    ShellOilJunior Well-Known Member

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    I guess it's worth noting the article refers to a 4k restoration (shouldn't it be 8k?).
    Edit:Someone explained it to me.
     
  18. Brianruns10

    Brianruns10 Well-Known Member

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    @ ShellOilJunior,
    The answer is that sometimes there is a difference between scanned-in and restored-in. Everything I've read is that LoA was scanned in 8K, which is generally regarded to be the minimum capture resolution to get 65mm to "resolve" that is, to capture the useable image information down to the grain structure.
    However, 8K files are pretty massive to work with. Even scanning a regular length feature in 8K will produce terabytes of data. LoA is a double length film, nearly four hours.
    It can become challenging, then, to work with such massive files in a practical way, the better alternative is to downsample to 4K. Since it's going to be projected in 4K, and downrezzed to 1080P for blu-ray, it makes sense logistically to do it this way.
    Needless to say though, the quality should be outstanding.
    I'm REALLY hoping they'll be able to restore some of those previously cut scenes, like the one between Allenby and Lawrence.
     
  19. haineshisway

    haineshisway Well-Known Member

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    I first saw Lawrence at the Stanley Warner Beverly Hills during its original run - it was unbelievably gorgeous to look at - and the film, of course, is brilliant. I was so lucky to have grown up back then, where I could just go see these things over and over and over again, providing I had the three bucks.
     
  20. AdrianTurner

    AdrianTurner Banned

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    Lean saw Lawrence at this cinema in Beverly Hills a few times in December 1962/January 1963 when he was planning which scenes to shorten or cut entirely. And on 21 January there was even one experimental screening when Lawrence was shown without an interval. From the Beverly Hills Hotel on 29 December 1962 Lean wrote to Robert Bolt, 'I am convinced the film should have been three hours long.'
    I saw the Blu-ray of TheThird Man yesterday, my first viewing of this film for maybe 20 years, and I was really struck by that last shot and how it prefigured Omar's ride through the mirage.
     

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