Teenage Steven Spielberg was not ready for what he saw when he sat down in the theater.
Do you keep a list of the movies that you feel changed your life? The ones that really pushed you to become not just a filmmaker but a better person? The ones that pushed your worldview and reoriented your brain into a new way of thinking?
We all have movies that touch our soul, that shake us to the core. And for Steven Spielberg, that movie was Lawrence of Arabia. In this video, Spielberg talks about David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia and its effect on him as a kid.
Check it out and let's talk after.
I loved listening to Spielberg nerd out on the theatrical experience. It's amazing hearing how he walked out so much in awe that he bought the soundtrack and a book on the movie, tearing it apart and trying to figure out how these movies were made. It was a movie that spoke to Spielberg. He was also a desert kid, albeit from Phoenix.
Hearing about him personalize Lawrence's journey made me think of all the ways Spielberg helps us personalize the plight of his characters. I love connecting the dots between Lean and Spielberg.
Another marker we can see that influenced Spielberg was the transitions within the movie, like the blowing out of a match to the sunshine and other cuts. I think a lot about the transitions in Schindler's List that seem most similar in epicness and in matching cuts.
When it comes to the revisionist history of the movie, he loves the artistic license taken to make sure the movie was romantically poetic.
Luckily for Spielberg, he was able to meet Lean, and while it was intimidating, it was an actually great moment meeting his hero. He learned the pecking order of directors who are inspired generationally. He got to speak a similar language of film, and learned all the details of how they swept up footprints in the sand, and even just struggled to get one shot a day.
Spielberg repaid Lawrence of Arabia by overseeing the restoration of the movie. Even better, he did it next to Lean, who gave him a live director's commentary while they were watching the movie together.
For Spielberg, he thinks the mirage sequence is one of the—if not the all-time best—sequences in cinema history.
Hearing Spielberg talk this way about the movie sort of humanizes him. For my generation, Spielberg is like our Lean, the guy who can make these epic, wondrous stories and command our attention. You can see that the love of making movies and filmmaking Lean poured into Lawrence of Arabia rubbed off on Spielberg and helped get him on his course. And we know many of us are on the same road because of Spielberg.
It's fascinating to think about how this talent inspires the next generation. I can't wait to see what films trickle down in the coming years.
What movie was your Lawrence of Arabia? Which made you gasp and helped inspire you to create?
Let us know in the comments.
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