01 May 2009
How About Some Love for Larry?
I am second to no man, woman or extraterrestrial in my love for the wonderful website, The List Universe. It is a combination of fun and educational that I call fuducational. If you've never idled away a few hours on the site do yourself a favor and, as the kids would say, check it out.
Like anything I love, however, it can occasionally ruffle my feathers, usually when the topic is related to films. Today is an example. The list du jour is "Top 15 Greatest Epic History Movies." Take a gander.
The list features some worthy films such as Spartacus (1960), Battle of Algiers (1966) and The Last Emperor (1987). Nicely done. But how can you have a list of five, let alone ten or 15 historical epics, without including Lawrence of Arabia (1962)? Consider my feathers ruffled.
You don't like the film? Fine, call your list My Fifteen Favorite Epic History Movies and I'll allow that it reflects your prejudices and taste. That's the deal with all my lists. I may be a Class C idiot (I'm working towards my Class B certification, exam next week) but I'm not presumptuous enough to call any list of mine "the greatest."
One criteria for the list in question was historical accuracy, so perhaps the author feels that Lawrence of Arabia strays too far from actual events. Fair enough. Then what on earth is The Great Escape doing there? I love The Great Escape (1963) and have since I first saw it as a wee lad, but it's not exactly a documentary.
A more likely explanation is that the list's author bears a grudge against David Lean because not only did he omit Lawrence of Arabia, but Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) failed to make the cut as well. Kundun (1997) did. (Kundun great? It's not even among Martin Scorsese's 10 best films).
Even more bizarre is the placement on the list of The Ten Commandments (1956). Look pal, you're free to worship and believe as you will, but to suggest that the story of Moses is "historical" is to presume all your readers are Christians who take the Old Testament literally. Would a movie about Jonah being swallowed by the whale qualify as "historical"?
And I won't get started on the inclusion of Ben-Hur (1959). At number one, no less.
While Lawrence of Arabia is the most egregious omission simply because of its renown as a historical epic, also notable by their absence were such historical epics as Malcolm X (1992), Tora!Tora! Tora! (1970) and JFK (1991) (a damn sight more historical than The Ten Commandments).
Seriously though, leaving off Lawrence of Arabia? Gimme a break....