This clip is about 3 minutes long, but you could get by on just watching the first minute and ten seconds. Lawrence of Arabia is acclaimed for its cinematography and beautiful setting. But is that all the natural elements are? Setting? Consider this quote from Martin Lefebvre:
"The birth of landscape should really be understood as the birth of a way of seeing, the birth of a gaze by which what was once in the margin has now come to take its place at the centre."
I argue that narrative prioritizes action and plot while consideration of aesthetics requires a pause, an introversion that steps aside from story. It is on the side of aesthetics that we should place landscapes.
But as you watch this clip from Lawrence of Arabia, does your mind stay aesthetically tuned? Or does it seek out plot as well?
Again, Martin Lefebvre says: "Landscape in narrative film possesses the peculiar ability to appear and disappear before the spectator's very eyes."
So, please watch this clip, and respond as you see fit. Gut responses are fine, because part of what I'm arguing is what landscapes do to us without us realizing it. If you'd like some question prompts, here are a few:
1. What do you think is the meaning of the clip in the first minute?
2. What attracts your attention?
3. Are you more or less engaged in the scene in the first minute, compared to the bits of plot that follow shortly thereafter?
4. What is the difference in your experience of watching the clip before the introduction of plot elements, and after?
5. What do you think about or wonder as you watch the first minute? What do you think about or wonder after the plot elements have been introduced?
6. Does your "view" or "gaze" change over time as the video clip plays?
Here is the video clip:
If you'd like to be able to watch the clip larger, here's the link to the youtube clip "Great Moments of movie music 2." The title obviously suggests I should also be thinking about sound and music...which you can also feel free to comment on.