www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Peter O Toole in Lawrence of Arabia

Peter and Omar restored to everlasting youth

On Sunday 6 September at 7pm, Electric Palace Cinema in Hastings Old Town will be screening David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, in a full restoration of the Director’s cut using the latest 4k digital technology that offers four times as much detail and resolution as HD or Blu-ray. Celluloid film fades and deteriorates, while this digital enhancement can preserve the original qualities of the film for posterity, writes Annie Waite.

We can now view the late Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, the latter sadly lost to us only in July this year,  as they acted out their youth. Lawrence of Arabia premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square on 10 December 1962 and is regarded as a masterpiece of World cinema. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards; it won seven, including Best Director, Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing and Best Picture.

History of a true epic

Om,ar Sharif in 1963

Omar Sharif in 1963

Lean’s film, shot on 65mm negative, gave a magnificent image – something you can only really experience on a large screen. It was made for cinema, although it was cut for TV and released against the director’s wishes. In January 1963, one month after its premiere, it was cut by 20 minutes and another 15 minutes was chopped for a prime-time ABC telecast – all 35 deleted minutes vanished until 1987, when footage was found scattered in hundreds of canisters.

When they came to restore the film from the original negative in 1987 (the film’s 25th anniversary) it turned out the sound had disappeared from many of the clips. The actors had to re-voice their parts, but in the interim Jack Hawkins had died and his voice was subsequently dubbed by Charles Gray (who had previously dubbed Hawkins’s voice when the actor had contracted cancer in the 1960s).

With the more recent 4K digital restoration, each frame of a film’s negative is scanned to produce 4,096 pixels horizontally and 2,160 pixels vertically, a total of 8.8 million pixels per frame.This compares with high-definition TV broadcasts and Blu-ray Discs that only have 2.2 million pixels per frame. This of course highlighted the flaws in the original film, but fortunately new software could be employed to correct the smallest defects, even the small fissures where the photochemical emulsion had dried and cracked after the film stock had been exposed to the desert heat.

In 2012, to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary, Sony Pictures digitally restored it with a running time of 227 minutes, making it the most complete copy since the premiere. It is this version the Electric Palace will be showing and, in view of the length of the film now, an interval will be included.

Electric Palace WW1 Film Season

Lifetime Achievement Award in film winner, Paul Sargent

Lifetime Achievement Award in film winner, Paul Sargent

This film concludes the WW1 Film Season at the Electric Palace, which has run over the past year, curated by Paul Sargent (pictured, right), former head curator of the Imperial War Museum Film Archive, and a 2013 winner of Lifetime Achievement Award in film.

In November this year  David Lean’s epic romance Doctor Zhivago, should be re-released in another 4k restoration to coincide with its 50th anniversary. Maybe, if we ask the Electric Palace nicely, we can catch another glimpse of the gorgeous Omar Sharif in the cinema, where the film belongs?

Lawrence of Arabia, the complete and fully restored Director’s cut version, shows at The Electric Palace Cinema, 39a High Street, Hastings, TN34 3ER at 7pm on Sunday 6 September. Book tickets for Lawrence of Arabia on the Electric Palace website, and find out more about its WW1 Film Season.

Posted 21:08 Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015 In: Film

1 Comment


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  1. L King

    We saw the film at the Odeon,Leicester Square in early March 1963 on our honeymoon
    52 years ago. One of the greatest films ever made !

    Comment by L King — Wednesday, Sep 2, 2015 @ 17:24

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