David Lean's original composition. On a typical 1962 70mm theater screen, that match was eight feet tall and about forty feet away when Lawrence extinguished it. That sort of thing might be okay for It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, but it's really silly in serious drama. That's Lean for you; no clear sense of what kind of picture he was making.
Pan & Scan ruins Lean's joke about the big match and it further confuses the viewer. The frame at left looks a bit like a cheap knockoff of the top of the statue of Liberty. I mean, what can you say about a guy that needs a manicure holding up a match? The frame at right makes things even worse. We get the impression that Lawrence is blowing in a cat's ear. The real Lawrence may have been a bit unusual but there's no indication that he had a thing for cats.
Letterboxing helps a lot in this shot. No more is that match eight feet high. In fact, on a conventional television it's only about an inch high. Things look pretty good. But in just one 24th of a second there's going to be a shot of a sunrise that's going to really suffer from its minuscule dimensions.
The FlikFX digital recomposition system works its magic to vastly improve this botched scene. The match is placed between Lawrence and the cat so that there is no possibility of creating an impression that Lawrence's tastes are deviant. Further, the FlikFX editorial staff grasped an opportunity to improve on the hack job that Robert Bolt did on the script. They were able to reinforce Lawrence's little "not minding the pain" match trick by allowing the flame to touch skin tissues more sensitive than calloused fingers. Bolt and Lean really missed a chance to enhance the Lawrence character here, but through the magic of the FlikFX digital recomposition system we were able to put things right. No doubt producer Sam Spiegel would be proud of the improvements.
"At last, this film is finally fit to watch." - Lowell Thomas, CBS Radio
"Roger and I just don't have enough thumbs to properly rate this new DVD release." - Gene Siskel
NEW!!! - Coming Soon! FlikFXTM fixes the wide screen mess called Ben-Hur