The 4K UHD restoration of the classic movie ““Lawrence of Arabia”” is simply stunning

by on January 14, 2016

Stephan Jukic – January 14, 2016

Film shooting has a number of nostalgic benefits to millions of consumers and more than a few big name movie directors but what it also offers up is a simple and powerful technological advantage, namely its lack of restriction via pixel limits.

This is why a lot of older film reel movies actually lend themselves extremely well to remastering in beautiful ultra-high resolution digital video in ways that simply aren’t possible with digitally shot movies of more recent days.

Thus, while many movies from the early to mid-2000’s which were shot with 1080p digital video cameras will remain 1080p in their resolution no matter how much technology advances, older films shot in 35mm and 65 mm film can actually be digitized to extraordinarily sharp 4K, 8K and even 12K digital resolutions. This is the case because the actual native resolution of these film reels goes far beyond the limits of normal Full HD digital film and while the display technologies that existed throughout decades of film reel movie production never allowed audiences to truly appreciate the full detail and sharpness of those reel movies in 35mm and 65mm film, modern technology is finally catching up with the past in some spectacular ways.

The most recent example of this at work is the new digital remastering of the classic 1962 movie ““Lawrence of Arabia”” starring Peter O’Toole. The original production was captured on 65mm film and that film can actually yield a maximum digital resolution of a stunning 12K pixel count. Thus, in 2012, the movie itself got an 8K scan that was then actually reduced to 4K resolution for a 50th anniversary release in some of the most stunning detail ever seen for this landmark film of the cinematic Golden Age.

a scene form the remastered 4K ultra HD version of the classic "Lawrence of Arabia"

a scene form the remastered 4K ultra HD version of the classic “Lawrence of Arabia”

In Fact, the level of detail found in the digitization of the original movie even at one point showed the sort of vague concentric lines that were consistent with a fingerprint mark on a section of film –something which would have never been seen in theatrical or previous DVD or VHS releases of the movie without digital remastery of the full resolution inherent in the 65mm film reels used in it.

The digitized 4K version of “Lawrence of Arabia” was restored by Sony Pictures and according to Grover Crisp, VP of restoration at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, “We’ve never been able to see this kind of detail before –It’s always been kind of submerged… but now with this 8K scan, it’s more obvious.”

Film is currently slowly losing out to digital video production and recording in the wider race for more advanced cinema but some major directors like Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan remain as major fans of the medium.

According to Nolan’s view, “If you want the choice, it’s very important to support film now. Filmmakers are going out of their way to shoot film and talk about it. We want to see a world where there’s a choice. It’s important to preserve it for future generations”.

“Lawrence of Arabia” is just one of many examples of older film-reel movies being restored to digital glory in 4K UHD resolution. We can expect to see this become a much more common process in the next years and some superb examples of the 4K remastering trend already in action also include a 2014 restoration of the original “Godzilla” movie from the 1950’s in 8K digital resolution, later reduced to 4K for the sake of release.

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  • Gé Nefkens
    January 16, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Stunning , . . you say
    Yes most high resolution in slow motion stuff is stunning even the 1000-nds footages
    in time lapse on Youtube, even the weddings

    which display since years now DAILY the exact same 10 minutes film
    Don’t they have brains ?
    Even a new company D+ , offering a subscription price per month for this
    always returning Demo movie from SES

    My Internet Provider seems to understand and gives with my 12 GigaBytes subscription
    for 20 $ / euro also FREE Il-limited weekends !
    So I depend on Youtube and so to fill the amazon 3 Tera cheap harddisks

    How is this on other countries / continents

    Let me repeat : good , also from amateurs 4K = Heaven on Earth !


  • MrSciFi
    March 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Taking this into acount, and being a classic movie buff myself, it is disheartening that when I discuss the idea of actually putting a CLASSIC film out in the spectacular 4k UHD bluray format to people who work in the home video departments of the studios, I am met with replies like, “Never!”, It’ll be a cold day in hell before that happens!”, “We have no interest in ever doing that!” or, “Are you crazy? If we did put classics out on 4k bluray we’d be lucky to sell ten copies!”. The studios are utterly convinced that there is absolutely NO market whatsoever for classic movies on UHD bluray! Instead they are marketing the format–and its’ releases–to the young demographic, who wouldn’t watch a classic film if their lives depended on it. Thus, they are marketing UHD bluray to the same demographic that doesn’t buy physical media. Absurd isn’t it?
    What I’m told is that unless we classic movie fans, who but physical media in droves, email the studios telling them that we actually wan’t classic films on UHD bluray, they will contunue to refuse to believe that the demand for such releases exists.
    If you want’ to see films like Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of OZ, Gone with the Wind, Ben-Hur (the Charleton Heston version) on 4k, you MUST email the studios and let them know or it will NEVER happen!


    • John Morris
      August 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Why does this not surprise me. But I know a lot of young people who love old movies, but they aren’t buying any Blu-Ray players let alone UHD players and disks. They all stream movies off Netflix or whatever. Why are they marketing 4k UHD to young people who aren’t going to be buying them?

      The studios need to take their heads out of their asses and look around.


  • MH
    July 23, 2017 at 2:07 am

    65mm of the 60s has no 12K. It ends between 4K and 8K. And early to mid 2000s films were not shot on 1080p but usually still on 35mm. Bad researched article.


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