PixelFish (pixelfish) wrote,

RIP Peter O'Toole


Nooooooo. No. No. No. No. No.

I'm crying as I try to write this.

My dad took me to see Lawrence of Arabia. First, when I was approximately nine and the SCERA ran the 70 mm print as part of a restoration run, and then two years later, on the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake. I'm not sure if we felt the earthquake as far away as Utah because I would have been in my seat, rapt, staring at the screen. The first time I saw Lawrence, I was blown away, impressed by a movie in a way that very rarely has ever occurred since, and in a way which has never been replicated. I left the movie the first time, and checked out Lawrence of Arabia in the encyclopedia. I looked up everything I could about the man, read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, read autobiographies, watched lesser biopics. (BTW, knowing that Lawrence of Arabia was probably gay was no doubt a huge counterpoint to the ideology I was raised with. I was in junior high or high school when I ran across that explanation in one of his biographies--others had sorta glossed it over in euphemisms I hadn't understood until later--and it sorta tweaked my head for approximately ten minutes, and then I accepted it because, well, he was Lawrence.)

So the movie is in large part a technical masterpiece of cinematography and screenplay and directing and of course, acting. And O'Toole's Lawrence was the linchpin for me. "Certainly it hurts. The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."


I suppose it would be fair to remind you that he acted in other movies. Certainly, he was one of the most nominated and never-winning actors in Hollywood. He even asked Hollywood if they might not delay the lifetime achievement statue since he was still in the game and might yet "win the lovely bugger outright." He lost Lawrence of Arabia to Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, which is the only reason I can not say he was robbed. He also lost Goodbye Mr. Chips to John Wayne's True Grit. And while he was not nominated for his performance in King Ralph, I'm sure that was a mere oversight on the part of the Academy. I used to worry that he would die too early and that King Ralph would be the last thing he would be known for, but I find that even it has achieved a patina of affection with age. And fortunately for the sake of the epitaphs, there is Lawrence. There will always be Lawrence.

I'm glad I went to the Cinerama just a month or so back to see Lawrence of Arabia again. I always do, whenever I get the chance to see it on the big screen, and a Cinerama screen is one of the biggest you can get, taking full advantage of those amazing 70mm desert shots, where the humans are flyspecks on the edge of a vast horizon. It now takes on the vague flavour in my mind...the same nostalgia I associate with the last trip to Utah before my Grandfather Mitchell died. Being aware, subconciously perhaps, that this would be the last time I would see him while alive. I guess that's how I feel now about that recent viewing of O'Toole's master performance.

It hurts thinking that we've lost him.

And as I think that, I hear in my head, "Certainly it hurts. The trick is not minding that it hurts."
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment