[DVD REVIEWS]From Lean times, 2 gorgeous classics

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[DVD REVIEWS]From Lean times, 2 gorgeous classics

Sometimes it seems like hardly a weekend goes by without a David Lean film playing on EBS, the local educational station. "A Passage to India" and "Bridge on the River Kwai" are longtime favorites. But of course, if you are to talk about David Lean, you have to discuss his two biggest works, "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago." In this era, where $100 million movies seem to come out every other week, Lean's films remind us that great films come from big ideas, not big budgets.

The Korean DVD pressings of these two Lean films come with a full range of extras, taking full advantage of the format and adding considerably to each film.

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Directed by David Lean. Starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness.

The love story of Yuri Zhivago (Sharif), a Russian doctor and poet living in the chaos around the Russian Revolution. He is married, but falls in love with the fiery Lara (Christie). Certainly there is no shortage of gorgeous scenery and memorable music. "Zhivago" clearly sets up the characters early on, developing their natures and their complicated relationships. Scenes of Russian aristocracy give way to life in Communist times, as a nation is turned upside down.

The DVD is absolutely loaded with goodies. In fact, in order to make room for the 210-minute movie and all the extras, three CD sides are needed. You get several documentaries of the making of the film, interviews with Lean, Sharif and Christie, plus commentary tracks.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Directed by David Lean. Starring Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness and Omar Sharif.

The British lieutenant T.E. Lawrence's pivotal role in modern Arabian history is one of the greatest epics in film history. The maladjusted Lawrence (O'Toole) is assigned to be an observer for Prince Feisal (Guinness), a tribal warlord. This small, odd Englishman from a green, wet, island nation finds new life in the endless Arabian desert, and decides to stay and help Feisal and his people.

Both this film and "Zhivago" were written by Robert Bolt, and feature plenty of memorable dialogue and ideas. They also feature incredibly creative shots and transitions. Lawrence blowing out a match becomes the windswept desert. A rider from beyond the horizon takes several minutes to slowly emerge from the sandy void and approach, all in one long shot. "Lawrence" likewise comes with a wealth of extras. Learning how such a huge film was made ?in the Jordan desert, over more than a year of filming ?is nearly as fascinating as the film itself.

More significantly is how maturely "Lawrence" addresses its subject matter. Despite being made in an allegedly more conservative time, subjects such as Lawrence's pedophilia are addressed without moralizing. This frankness stands in stark contrast to the bowdlerized life of John Nash presented in the recent "A Beautiful Mind."

by Mark Russell

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