Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2010 January 04 • Monday

When Maurice Jarre died last year, every obituary mentioned his Academy Award for the Lawrence of Arabia score. Of course I'd seen the movie before but that was when I was about twelve years old.

Twenty-five years later I couldn't remember a single thing about it. Oh, if pressed I could come up with the facts that it was about someone named Lawrence who spent a lot of the movie around sand, but other than that….

I borrowed a DVD of the movie from the library and put it on. It begins with an overture that I considered skipping as the movie is quite long, but Jarre's majestic and moving score, as grand as it is alluring, kept my hand from the remote control. His music repeated this trick again, for the intermission that comes about halfway through the movie.

Lawrence of Arabia is the ninety-fourth Soundtrack of the Week.

After enjoying this splendid movie, which I would love to see projected in 70mm someday, I turned my thoughts to acquiring the soundtrack on CD. I got a re-recording and it kept me satisfied for a while. I think I listened to it about a dozen times.

But it seemed to be missing something. And the sound quality wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be. It seemed muted, lacking presence and clarity. I could appreciate Jarre's writing, the melodies and his use of percussion, but I couldn't hear all the colors.

The original recording, conducted by Jarre, is out of print but not so hard on the wallet to obtain as many other such things. $25 and it was mine. This is the one to have, but only for the moment: it has only twelve tracks and a running time of about 37 minutes. Where's the rest of the music?

Is this a re-recording of selections from the soundtrack, conducted by the composer and released as an album to capitalize on the movie's success?

l don't know. But I love it. The theme gets stuck in my head all the time, which is a great thing. That reminds me, the theme was played by Shelly Manne and Jack Marshall on Sounds!, one of their guitar/drums duo records from the early '60s.

"Drums" is putting it mildly as Manne plays a score of different percussion instruments, including a box of rice. (It makes a great shaker.) He even plays prepared guitar with mallets, on their version of the theme to Lawrence of Arabia.

There are quite a few places in Europe, apparently, that show movies in 70mm, some using a curved screen. I wouldn't mind going to Germany to see 70mm projections of Scent of Mystery (in Smell-O-Vision?), Kelly's Heroes and The Golden Head. Those will all play in Karlsruhe, where they have a 70mm film festival. Another 70mm festival happens in England. Vertigo in 70mm is a good excuse to visit Melbourne, Australia. The US hasn't as much to offer, though there are tentative plans for John Wayne's The Alamo to tour in 70mm.