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Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Perfect film with perfect director, perfect cast, and perfect plot
Extraordinarily beautiful and thought-provoking, this movie will rest in my mind for many years.
The plot revolves around a certain British officer named T.E. Lawrence who travels to Arabia during WWI and helps the Arabs gain their independence.
First of all, almost the entire film was shot in desert, with great shots of the sand and the misty atmosphere. There are some mesmerizing scenes that show both the beauty and the brutality of the desert.
Secondly, each characters is also brilliantly painted through the camera lens and each actor. Peter O'Toole fits perfectly in the title role as T.E. Lawrence, a complex man who is an egomania and a hero at the same time. The ever changing character of Lawrence certainly requires a lot of acting skills, and O'Toole made it look very easy to portray a complex character. The supporting cast, especially Omar Sharif and Anthony Quinn brought out the different personalities of each of their characters well. And of course, credits should also go to Alec Guinness for his Prince Feisal, a perfect example of a powerful politician: Enigmatic sometimes, and coldly calculating at other times.
The war sequences were also well-shot and breathtaking. The long track shots of the horses and camels rushing forward gives you a feeling of being right in the middle of action. Even without much violence and gore(like many modern films) it can captivate you with suspense. David Lean really knows how to keep you at the edge of your seat! I think 4 hours of running time is actually too short for an epic like this. Watch this film closely and you'll see a story of courage, conflict, and tragical heroism.
Great Expectations (1946)
Beautifully crafted movie, although I didn't like the deletion of subplots
Having read the book first, I was actually amazed at how a 500 pages book can be fitted into a 2 hour movie. The story of a young man with "great expectations" for himself, realizes his expectations, but ultimately learns from suffering comes to life on the screen!
The entire cast, most notably John Mills, Martita Hunt, and Jean Simmons are exactly the way I imagined their characters when reading the novel. I have to say that Valerie Hobson as the grown-up Estella strikes a flat note because she seemed too friendly than what Estella should be: cold, heartless, yet attractive. Some may say that Mills is too old to play Pip (sometimes you can see a bit of his wrinkles), but apart from that little physical problem, he showed the various stages of Pip's journey and development to self-realization perfectly. Also, I just couldn't get Hunt's Miss Havisham out of my head, especially when she screams before burning to death. Some may find it funny, but I find it pathetic and sad, like her character.
For a black and white film, it has vivid and beautiful cinematography that fits the mood of the book well. David Lean also did a good job reinterpreting and adapting the book. Although I find the ending a bit too straightforward, it still works by its own right. Unless you prefer a dark and depressing ending, you won't be too disappointed. Since many characters and sup-plots were deleted, I would suggest that you read the book first before viewing it.