AirTalk for September 21, 2012

'Lawrence of Arabia' gets a digital facelift

Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Presents The 50th Anniversary 4K Digital Restoration Of "Lawrence Of Arabia"

Valerie Macon/Getty Images

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 19: Chris Cookson (L) and Grover Crisp (R) attend Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Presents The 50th Anniversary 4K Digital Restoration Of "Lawrence Of Arabia" at AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater on July 19, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

One of the most legendary films in all of cinema is getting an anniversary present this year.

Director David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” is 50-years-old, and to celebrate the film, Sony has prepared a digital restoration of the film for release in theaters and on Blu-ray. Moviegoers will be able to watch Peter O’Toole portray the life of T.E. Lawrence on 633 theaters across the country starting October 4th through Fathom Events, and those who want to watch at home will have to wait until November 13th for the Blu-ray boxed set.

Robert A. Harris, part of the first restoration project in 1988, praised Grover Crisp, Sony's executive vice president of film restoration, for leading the effort.

"I hate to slap people on the back, but the great thing about Grover ... is that he's a perfectionist," he said. "Grover could have taken short cuts in this, and he didn't, and he got Sony to go along with it."

Harris said that the restoration done in the late-80s used a process called "wet-gate printing," which hide about 90 percent of the imperfections in the film.

"When Grover started scanning this at 8K [resolution], he opened a Pandora's box and he's been dealing with that for over two years now. The film is scratched, it has nicks, it has tears. There is actually heat damage from the desert. He was able to bring in a software company to create a methodology to help with that," he detailed.

For the uninitiated, the story takes place in Arabia during World War I, and the landscape of the desert with the backdrop of violence made it into one of the most epic films of all time. In fact, many would argue that it still stands as the quintessential example of the cinematic epic. Winning seven Oscars in 1962, including Best Picture and Best Director, the movie went on to influence generations of directors to come.

A digital 4K trailer of "Lawrence of Arabia":

WEIGH IN:

What’s your favorite memory of “Lawrence of Arabia”? Will you be seeing it when it comes to theaters in October?

Guests:

Grover Crisp, Executive Vice President of Film Restoration at Sony, headed up the effort to convert “Lawrence of Arabia” to a digital format

Robert A. Harris, film historian and preservationist, owner of The Film Preserve Ltd., restored the 1989 director’s cut version of “Lawrence of Arabia”

Wade Major, film critic for KPCC and boxoffice.com

Claudia Puig, film critic for KPCC and USA Today

More information about the release of "Laurence of Arabia" can be found here.


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