Yesterday I wrote that the new digital 4K version of Lawrence of Arabia that I saw in Cannes last May “looked as beautiful as ever, but it didn’t look as sharp and precise as I wanted it to look. The lenses and cameras used by dp Freddie Young in 1961 and ’62 couldn’t deliver the clarity and detail that you can see in films shot with the digital Red camera.”
Which is true, but I saw the digitally restored version again at the Academy last night, and for whatever reason it looked slightly but significantly better than it did in Cannes. It was like like perfect 70mm candy. What I saw made me feel high, in a sense. It’s never looked more luscious.
A special huzzah for Sony”s Grover Crisp, who’s been working on the digital Lawrence upgrade for two years. I was shocked to realize that Crisp’s name doesn’t appear in the restoration credits at the end along with Robert Harris‘s and all the others. “Grover, your name isn’t in the credits…why?,” I asked him in the upstairs lobby. Crisp said he’s not big on taking credit and that seeing how well the film has turned out is satisfying enough. What a guy.
Before the screening I was told that the famous “lost” balcony scene between Jack Hawkins and Peter O’Toole — the one that begins right after Hawkins notices the blood streaks leaking through Lawrence’s military jacket and then leads him outdoors and says “tell me what happened” — will probably be included as an extra on the Bluray.