The Passing of Peter O'Toole
"There were giants in the earth in those days." Genesis
Chapter 6 verse 4
2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013
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The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Mark Lyndon,
passing of Peter O'Toole marks the definitive ending of an epic era of film
making. From the legendary title role of Lawrence of Arabia to the highly
rated portrayal of RJ Johnston, the tutor of Pu Yi - The Last Emperor, his
70mm career spanned twenty five glorious years within a much longer range of
half a century plus.
A 70mm festival programmer would, in an ideal world, have Lawrence of
Arabia, Beckett, The Bible - In the Beginning, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye
Mr Chips, Man of La Mancha, Supergirl, and The Last Emperor; no
less than eight 70mm prints to choose from. Maybe such a thing is
What is certain is that Peter O'Toole bestrode the worlds of stage and
screen like a colossus, bringing to those worlds an immense range of
subtlety, wit and intelligence.
With his immense stature, presence and prestige he left a cinematic legacy
that has still to run its' full course. Next year we will see his portrayal
of Gallus, the Roman orator, in the film "Katherine of Alexandria".
Richard Burton said of him that he was " The most original actor to come out
of Britain since the war," with "something odd, mystical and deeply
disturbing" in his work. His stage performances were the stuff of legend
from Estragon in Godot in the Abbey Theatre to a "shattering" Hamlet in the
Old Vic and the National Theatre.
His production of Macbeth in 1980 was said to be a "disaster", some critics
said the worst disaster in British theatrical history. A brief glance at the
box office told another story. Tickets could not be had for love or money.
The critics were much kinder to his great theatrical swansong "Geoffrey
Bernard is unwell". This writer had a small part in that production, in the
final run at The Old Vic. There was a tricky sight gag, in the second half,
involving the catching of an egg in a glass. I was in the second row, our
eyes met and somehow we began working together to time the trick and make it
work. We pulled it off. It was marvellous, but it can never happen again.
However, his golden heritage remains. Future programmers of 70mm festivals
will have a truly rich legacy to draw upon.
More in 70mm reading:|
Omar Sharif Passed Away
Restoration of "Lawrence of
Dave Strohmaier and Randy
Gitsch - in conversation with Mark Lyndon
Carl Davis Interview
Kevin Brownlow Interview
Peter O'Toole wiki
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