Teenage Steven Spielberg wasn’t ready for what he saw when he sat in the theater.
Do you keep a list of the movies that you think changed your life? The ones who really made you not only become a filmmaker but also a better person? The ones who pushed your worldview and put your brain into a new way of thinking?
We all have films that touch our souls, that shake us to the core. And for Steven Spielberg this was the movie Lawrence of Arabia. In this video, Spielberg talks about David Lean Lawrence of Arabia and its effect on him as a child.
Try it out and let’s talk afterwards.
I loved listening to Spielberg nerds doing the theater experience. It’s amazing to hear him walk out of the house so reverently that he bought the soundtrack and a book on the film, tore it apart, and tried to figure out how those films were made. It was a film that spoke to Spielberg. He was a desert kid too, albeit from Phoenix.
When I heard him personalize Lawrence’s journey, I pondered all the ways Spielberg could help us personalize his characters’ plight. I love connecting the dots between Lean and Spielberg.
Another marker we can see that influenced Spielberg was the transitions within the film, like blowing out a match with the sunshine and other cuts. I think a lot about the transitions in Schindlers List that seems to be most similar in the epic and in the appropriate cuts.
When it comes to the movie’s revisionist story, he loves the artistic license he holds to ensure the film is romantically poetic.
Fortunately for Spielberg, he got to know Lean, and while it was intimidating, it was a really great moment to meet his hero. He learned the pecking order from directors who are cross-generational inspired. He spoke similar cinematic language and learned all the details of how they left footprints in the sand, and even struggled just to get one shot a day.
Spielberg has paid back Lawrence of Arabia by overseeing the restoration of the film. Better yet, he did it alongside Lean, who gave him a live director’s commentary while they watched the movie together.
For Spielberg, the Mirage sequence is one of the – if not the best – sequences in cinema history.
When Spielberg talks about the film like that, it becomes humanized. For my generation, Spielberg is like our Lean, the guy who can write these epic, wondrous stories and get our attention. You can see the love of filmmaking and filmmaking Lean poured into her Lawrence of Arabia rubbed off on Spielberg and helped him get on his course. And we know that many of us are on the same path because of Spielberg.
It’s fascinating to think about how this talent inspires the next generation. I can’t wait to see what movies will be pouring down in the years to come.
Which movie was yours Lawrence of Arabia? What made you gasp and what inspired you to create?
Let us know in the comments.