Patching up "Lawrence of Arabia" Pg4
Hollywood Lost and Found

"Patching up Lawrence of Arabia," page 4

MSNL: So no new effects were added? No Foley?

RA: The original Foley was very light. We did Foley the new sequences where there was no track, where we added dialogue from alternate angles. One of the scenes where we added voices, where Allenby is talking to Lawrence on a porch, was an area where I lucked out - there was an M&E for that section. I matched it up, and, by God, got it to fit. It was just Cairo traffic and footsteps, but I managed to get it in sync. The interesting thing is that Allenby's wearing these knee-high riding boots. And he gets up and walks around and there's hardly any footsteps. It's there, but it's real low, even though he has these big, clumpy boots. That was the mixing style. One of the things I decided to do, in deference to the original film, is to restore the film, not "improve" it! So whatever sound was in the original, I would go with it. When I did have to add extra sound effects, if I couldn't get them out of scenes in the existing movie, things like camels walking or camels getting up or generic battle effects, if I couldn't do that, then I tried to get library effects that matched that era.

MSNL: How would they be different?

RA: Recording of effects in that era, say, gunshots or winds, was a much narrower range. It would have been sacrilege to use a "Raiders" gunshot, even though I think they're very dynamic gunshots, so I stuck with effects from the studio libraries of that period. New recordings would have stuck out like a sore thumb. To me it would have been the sound effects equivalent of colorizing.

MSNL: I assume the re-recording mixers felt the same way.

RA: You bet. "Lawrence" was mixed by Gregg Landaker, at Goldwyn Sound, with Steve Maslow mixing on some days. (Editor's note: Maslow and Landaker are now the lead mixers at Universal now.) Gregg made two versions - a six-track Dolby "spread" version (unlike the original six-track discrete) for most big-market theaters, and a four-track Dolby optical version for all others in 35mm. Of course that's the "4-2-4" encoding to two matrixed tracks, so when the video release of this 220 minute version comes out, you'll be able to decode the center and surrounds if you have a decoder.

MSNL: So this was a pleasant job?

RA: Oh, Sir David Lean was wonderful! The man is wonderful! There are so many powerful directors who want to control everything, and relate really badly to people they need to share creatively with. But he was such a gentleman, and always interested and open to our ideas. You would make a suggestion and he would respect you as the expert in your field. That's rare these days. We made this whole new version, and then Sir David wanted to make a few further changes. Some of the new/old/new materiel we put back in, he wanted to trim a little. They had very little time to do this show originally. They finished shooting in something like October of 1962 and they had to show the movie in December to the Queen, or something. This is a 26 reel show! Apparently, they had all the dubbing editors in England tied up for this and told them "Now, for the duration, this is where you're going to be living, in this hotel across from the studio." It's a wonder the show got done. My guess is that they were under such pressure to finish the film, there wasn't time for Lean to play with it editorially as much as he would have liked to do. So now he's made his version.

Columbia Pictures' "Lawrence of Arabia" was directed by David Lean from a screenplay by Robert Bolt and produced by Sam Spiegel. The restoration was produced by Robert A. Harris and Jim Painten.

© 1989 Moviesound Newsletter. Used with permission.
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