Sunday, February 16, 2020

Maurice Jarre - Overture to Lawrence of Arabia

I hadn't realized that a recent reader's poll in the UK (by the London Telegraph paper) showed that Lawrence of Arabia was the UK's favorite film of all time.  Even if you don't agree, you can certainly do a lot worse.  A lot worse.  You can also make a case that the soundtrack for the film is the greatest in motion picture history.

I should say "the Academy Award winning soundtrack", which catapulted the unknown composer Maurice Jarre to fame.  He later won Oscars for the music for the films Passage to India and Dr. Zhivago - and his "Lara's Tune/Somewhere My Love" from that last film spent almost a year on the Billboard charts.  Oh yeah - he also contributed to the score for The Man Who Would be King (great flick) and was nominated for an Oscar for his soundtrack to Ghost.  Not to mention Fatal Attraction, The Year Of Living Dangerously, and Dead Poet's Society.  I'm not sure that he was the greatest Hollywood composer of all time, but I'm not sure he wasn't.

Full disclosure, I believe that if the music to this film isn't the greatest in cinema history, it's because it was beat by Jarre's Dr. Zhivago.  What's interesting is that he almost never got the gig - he was #3 on the list of composers but the first two had other commitments.  You have to wonder if they kicked themselves on missing that change.


Aesop said...

Lawrence Of Arabia, by itself, is a literal masterclass in film making. And to think David Lean did it as an encore to Bridge Over The River Kwai.
Best Flashback In Movie History: They kill Peter O'Toole in the opening scene, and the entire rest of the film is a flashback.
(And people younger than a certain age thought Quentin Tarantino invented jumbling the time order of a movie.)
Greatest Segue in movie history: Peter O'Toole snuffing a match to desert sunrise.
Greatest Casting in movie history: When your supporting parts are given to Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quayle, Anthony Quinn, Claude Rains, and Alec Guinness, it's hard to screw anything up.
Greatest Rookie Double Debut in Movie History: Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif.
One of the Greatest Character Intros in Movie History: Omar Sharif's ride from the horizon to shooting Lawrence's Bedouin guide.
The tension build-up told with camera shots in that whole scene is everything you need to know to direct a movie, and not a line of dialog for most of it. It's all camera work and sound effects, and only five words spoken for most of two minutes.
(The last time a character intro was that good was John Wayne twirling a big-loop Winchester to flag down the stage in Stagecoach).
Best Set decoration in movie history: they literally painted and groomed the sand from near to horizon to frame Shariff's path on camel back in that shot. And you thought that just happened.
And so on.
And so on.
Maurice Jarre's score was just another epic piece of a movie full of epic parts, and why this is probably one of the top ten greatest films of all time.

Borepatch said...

Peter O'Toole was robbed by the Academy. Maybe I'm just not a big fan of To Kill A Mockingbird, but O'Toole got robbed repeatedly in his career.

libertyman said...

Just back from the Boston Boat show -- late for class, I know!

I must pick up a copy of Lawrence of Arabia, as I haven't watched it in years, thank you Aesop for the reminders of the film's superlatives. Peter O'Toole had a magnificent start! I did not know that Omar Sharif started with this one as well.

Borepatch, The Man Who Would be King is a favorite, I will have to watch that again as well.

What a theme, and so nicely performed in the video.

Thank you for doing this, it is always appreciated.

Borepatch said...

Libertyman, I love "The Man Who Would Be King".