(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
(#7) Lawrence of Arabia
Adventure/Biography • dir. David Lean • 1962 • UK
When you hear talk of taking pride in your roots, chances are the roots in question are not English, white, middle class and suburban. Fair enough, really: all too often the people who take pride in those roots do so in a misguided way, at best, or a horrible, xenophobic way, at worst. I’ll steer well clear of them, thank you very much. But there are, however, a pair of Davids whose reflected glory (English, white, middle class and suburban) shines, I like to think, on the sort of semi-detached house I grew up in. David Bowie was born a couple of towns north of me (Brixton), and grew up a couple of towns east of me (Bromley). How about that? A cultural icon and one of the greatest pop stars who ever lived! And, a generation earlier, David Lean was born a mere one town over in Croydon. He, of course, one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived.
I’ll admit it makes my head spin. Did Bowie and Lean, like me, ever confuse the 154 bus route with the 157 route? Did they, like me, start every day-trip into London via train to Victoria or London Bridge station, feeling close to the big city but far off too? Did they walk down Croydon High Street in the rain? Feed the ducks at Waddon Pond? Cycle down the big dip in Carshalton Park, and up the other side again breathless and giddy? Still more intoxicating a question, how did they build upon their roots so mightily – to become a pair of giants in those giant worlds of music and film? Lawrence of Arabia, especially, is the most monumental of achievements. Glorious, gripping, and vast, it is filmmaking at its very best – Peter O’Toole in the title role as perfect a pairing of player and part as all of cinema has to offer. It is literally awe-inspiring… and, a true testament to what imagination is capable of doing, a long way from Croydon.