Why did the movie Lawrence of Arabia (1962) need to be made in a widescreen. How was the widescreen used to tell the story?
There are many different elements that go in to making a movie, one of the most important of these elements is the shape of a movie; how wide is the screen and how does that impact the shots that make up the movie? Every shoot in a movie is composed; just like a painter paints an image, a director composes many elements that make up a particular shot; and its these elements within any given shot that go towards building a mood, an atmosphere and a feeling within a movie. With the introduction of the widescreen in 1953, the filmmaker’s canvas was dramatically expanded and suddenly a director had up to 45% more space to work in. This expanded the possibilities within filmmaking in regards to creating and capturing new moods and atmospheres on screen. With the emergence of widescreen, a filmmaker’s “window” on the world had vastly widened in scope and with it, so did the boundaries of the medium.
One of the finest examples of how to effectively utilize this new space, and how to use it to create mood, capture a certain atmosphere and advance the narrative, is David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962). This movie revolutionized the widescreen format, and is seen by many as the definitive wide-screen movie achievement. It’s almost unimaginable to think of someone watching this movie in pan and scan (with the edges chopped off to fit a 4:3 ratio), because what the widescreen brings to this picture is so invaluable. This makes the movie a perfect subject when answering such questions as “why make a movie in widescreen” and “How is widescreen used to tell the story”.
Widescreen is so essential to Lawrence of Arabia, because without it you effectively lose the dessert. Lean spent two years in production creating a highly specific mood through his artful depiction of the dessert and through it he creates a sense of vastness, openness and space...