David Lean

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Scharphedin2
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 7:37 am
Location: Denmark/Sweden

David Lean

#1 Post by Scharphedin2 » Fri Jul 13, 2007 4:01 pm

David Lean (1908-1991)

Image


I was overawed by movies. I thought they were so
wonderful, literally a dream world. I never thought
one could go into them. I applied to a place that is
now a television studio. I said, "I'll do anything, carry
tea, anything." They said, "Well, we'll take you on for
two weeks. If, at the end of it, you seem to be promising,
we'll take you on at five pounds a week." And they did.
I remember going into the camera department first of all.
I remember going up to an old Bell and Howell camera
and saying, "What has that done?" And they said, Roses
of Picardy. This is a film I'd seen-silent, of course. And I
remember touching their camera. I couldn't believe that
this was the source of all the magic, you know.

~ David Lean

(from AFI Tribute interview, American Film, March 1990)

Filmography

In Which We Serve (1942) Carlton (R2 UK) – also included in 3 Classic World War 2 Naval Battles / Optimum Releasing (R2 UK) – included in The Complete War Collection

This Happy Breed (1944) Carlton (R2 UK) – also included in 3 Classic Wartime Dramas / ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection

Blithe Spirit (1945) Image Entertainment (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) – also included in 3 Classic British Comedies / ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection

Brief Encounter (1945) Criterion (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) / Granada Ventures (R2 UK) – included in The Rank Collection Box Set / ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection / Roadshow Entertainment (R4 AU)

Great Expectations (1946) Criterion (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) – also as David Lean Double Bill with Oliver Twist and included in 3 Classic Charles Dickens Films / ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection / Koch (R2 DE)

Oliver Twist (1948) Criterion (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) – also as David Lean Double Bill with Great Expectations and included in 3 Classic Charles Dickens Films / ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection / Koch (R2 DE)

The Passionate Friends (1949) ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection

Madeleine (1950) ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection

The Sound Barrier (1952) Warner (R2 UK) – as part of David Lean Double Feature with Hobson's Choice / ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection

Hobson's Choice (1954) Warner (R2 UK) – as part of David Lean Double Feature with The Sound Barrier / ITV (R2 UK) – included in The David Lean Collection

Summertime (1955) Criterion (R1)

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Columbia (R1) – also included in WWII Box Set: 60th Anniversary Collection and as part of The David Lean Collection / Sony (R2 UK) – also included in Modern Epics: Classic Cuts Collection

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Columbia (R1) – also included in The David Lean Collection / Columbia (R2 UK)

Doctor Zhivago (1965) Warner (R1) – also included in Essential Classics: Romances / Warner (R2 UK)

Ryan's Daughter (1970) Warner (R1) / Warner (R2 UK)

Lost and Found: The Story of Cook's Anchor (TV, 1979)

A Passage to India (1984) Columbia (R1) – also included in The David Lean Collection / MGM (R2 UK)


Recommended Web Resources

The British Film Institute – BFI's site dedicated to the career of David Lean

Criterion – “Brief Encounter” essay for the DVD by Adrian Turner

David Lean Foundation

David Lean Web Page – Large site dedicated to David Lean with many resources and additional links and references

Senses of Cinema – Career Profile

Senses of Cinema – “Great Expectations” article by Boris Trbic

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ellipsis7
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:56 pm
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#2 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:16 am

This from the BFI website...
David Lean Centenary
Sir David Lean (1908 – 1991) was one of the greatest British film-makers of all time. This year is the centenary of his birth and to mark this occasion the BFI celebrates his prolific career.

This UK-wide celebration marks the conclusion of a three-year project by the BFI National Archive, working with Granada International and Studio Canal, to restore the first ten of the 16 feature films directed by David Lean: In Which We Serve (1942), This Happy Breed (1944), Blithe Spirit (1945), Brief Encounter (1945), Great Expectations (1946), Oliver Twist (1948), The Passionate Friends (1948), Madeleine (1949), The Sound Barrier (1952) and Hobson’s Choice (1953).

This ambitious and demanding £1 million restoration programme has involved everything from the hand-cleaning of the original negatives through to image and sound repair with the latest digital technology. It will ensure the long-term preservation of Lean's films for future generations, generously funded by The David Lean Foundation.
The BFI’s centenary celebrations include the theatrical release of the rarely seen The Passionate Friends (1948) on 6 June; a major two-month retrospective at BFI Southbank and a nationwide tour of the ten newly restored titles.
Release of David Lean Centenary Collection on R2UK DVD on 11th August... The 10 newly restored films, superseding the previous boxset, The David Lean Collection, containing the same 10 films, presumably pre-restoration...

jojo
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:47 pm

#3 Post by jojo » Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:34 pm

I might be the only guy here who has never seen Lawrence of Arabia. I've seen clips and interviews with people talking about it, but never actually the entire movie.

It's not that I didn't have chances to, but this is a movie that everyone tells me I have to see on the big screen, and from everything I've heard about it, I believe it.

So I'm just holding out for the day one of my city's local rep cinemas runs it and I have the time to catch it.

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Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

#4 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:23 pm

I actually fit somewhere in the same ballpark, and was kicking myself in the ass for missing a recent showing. Luckily, fate stepped in, and it appears the local NW Film Center is doing a David Lean retrospective soon. It wouldn't surprise me if the same retrospective doesn't show up other places, so there may be your chance.

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Highway 61
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:40 pm

#5 Post by Highway 61 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:19 pm

Fate will be sure to step in again and screw the Film Center out of securing a print, and then they'll charge us eight bucks to watch the DVD.

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Cold Bishop
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#6 Post by Cold Bishop » Thu Jun 12, 2008 12:47 am

So they actually charge for those? It's happened once for me, when they stated (quite falsely) that there were "no prints of Red Desert in existence" (despite it playing several times around the country just months before) but I get in free, so I just imagine they waived the fee for the general population. I'd imagine if Cinema 21 can secure an archival print, they could however.

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Highway 61
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:40 pm

#7 Post by Highway 61 » Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:06 am

Indeed they do charge. They wanted to charge me five bucks to see a VHS of Malle's Vanya on 42nd Street! Sometimes they'll announce that they don't have a print and lower the ticket price or just refund people's money; sometimes they don't say a word, and it's only when the film starts that I realize I'm spending my Friday night watching a DVD or a MiniDV tape. Drives me crazy!

Incidentally, I believe Cinema 21 actually owns the 35mm print of LOA that just showed. They pull the film out every year or two when they have a last minute scheduling hiccup, and they need a movie guaranteed to sell tickets. They do the same thing with Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (which I'm told they also own), and more recently, Harold and Maude.

jojo
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:47 pm

#8 Post by jojo » Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:19 pm

Cold Bishop wrote:... it appears the local NW Film Center is doing a David Lean retrospective soon. It wouldn't surprise me if the same retrospective doesn't show up other places, so there may be your chance.
I checked my current Cinematheque program, and you're right--they are going to do a David Lean retrospective soon, so hopefully I can catch a showing.

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exte
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:27 pm
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#9 Post by exte » Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:07 pm

jojo wrote:I might be the only guy here who has never seen Lawrence of Arabia. I've seen clips and interviews with people talking about it, but never actually the entire movie.

It's not that I didn't have chances to, but this is a movie that everyone tells me I have to see on the big screen, and from everything I've heard about it, I believe it.

So I'm just holding out for the day one of my city's local rep cinemas runs it and I have the time to catch it.
Life's too short. Watch it now, and savor the cinema experience for when it comes... The soundtrack is golden, too. I remember taking it out from the library and putting it on repeat mode until I fell asleep. You're wasting an amazing opportunity, for sure.

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ellipsis7
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:56 pm
Location: Dublin

#10 Post by ellipsis7 » Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:23 am

Sight and Sound feature on the restoration of the 10 earlier Leans by the BFI in partnership with Granada International and Studio Canal.

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tavernier
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:18 pm

#11 Post by tavernier » Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:36 pm

Film Forum announcement:
SEPTEMBER 12 - SEPTEMBER 25 Three weeks! 16 films!
DAVID LEAN presented in association with the BFI
A complete retrospective of British master Lean (1908-1991), in honor of his centennial year, with new 35mm prints (all newly restored by the BFI in London) of the director's first ten films, including the classic Dickens adaptations Great Expectations and Oliver Twist; the Noel Coward adaptations In Which We Serve, This Happy Breed, and Blithe Spirit; and the great romances including Brief Encounter and The Passionate Friends. The second week of the festival will be primarily devoted to Lean's legendary epics, including The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage to India, and Lawrence of Arabia.

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aox
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:02 pm
Location: nYc

#12 Post by aox » Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:43 pm

SEPTEMBER 12 - SEPTEMBER 25 Three weeks! 16 films!
DAVID LEAN presented in association with the BFI
nice. I would love to see Lawrence or Zhivago on the big screen. Probably go with the latter since I prefer it.

Never seen Passage to India. How does it compare to Bridge, Zhivago or Lawrence?

Jonathan S
Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 am
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#13 Post by Jonathan S » Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:31 am

aox wrote:Never seen Passage to India. How does it compare to Bridge, Zhivago or Lawrence?
It isn't as big-budget as those of course, but personally, I like the film a lot. At the risk of sounding obvious, like all Lean's films, it has to be appreciated on a primarily visual level.

Many reviewers could not get past its softening of Forster's novel, especially the ending, and the arguably racist casting of Alec Guinness as the Hindu Professor - a decision that both Guinness and Lean (to their credit) openly regretted later. It didn't help that the film appeared in the midst of a massive "India cycle" - much of it from UK TV - and was often compared to works with a stronger political and historical sense.

But if one considers the film less as literary adaptation or historical reconstruction and pays close attention to the images, it shows a remarkable visual richness and thematic consistency, especially with the portrayal of natural elements. Even so late in his career, Lean was clearly still influenced by silent cinema.

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foggy eyes
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:58 am
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#14 Post by foggy eyes » Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:50 am

Make sure you catch The Passionate Friends and This Happy Breed as well - both are quite wonderful.

Excellent article by John Orr from the latest issue of Senses of Cinema: Forgotten Lean: The Ann Todd Trilogy.

And one on the restoration process by Nigel Algar and Andrea Kalas (accessible via the members section of the BFI's site):
David Lean and his Passionate Friends

The David Lean Foundation has sponsored the restoration of eleven of the sixteen films Lean directed. The BFI undertook the restoration of ten of these titles, working with Granada International and Canal Plus. The new preservation material will then be the source of all future distributed versions, ensuring that audiences will see the film at its best.

The overall approach was to find the best surviving material and restore and preserve each film using the best methods available. The elements were inspected for quality and condition. Dirt and scratches can be printed in, focus and fluctuation variations in the image can also occur. Other problems include deterioration, mould, missing frames, and most often wear from repeated use of the element. Original negatives were not seen as archival treasures but as materials from which to make prints.

The next stage is to decide how and where to complete the restoration. Archival film is often fragile and in need of printers and scanners that have been specially adapted for this purpose. Expert knowledge of black and white cinematography was a key component too, as well as an understanding of the Technicolor process and modern film stocks. The Archive Film Lab in Berkhamsted was the main site for the restoration work, including all the digital audio restoration, but other facilities, such as Cineric in New York, were used for specialized work.

There are three basic approaches to the restoration process: Photochemical, Photochemical with Digital Sections, and Full Digital Intermediate.

Photochemical

The original negative, if it exists, is considered the best source with vintage elements such as fine grains and dupe negatives compared against it. If there is damage in this primary source, the secondary elements may be used to replace these sections. Scratches on original elements are a factor in almost every restoration. Photochemical means of addressing this issue are possible through wet-gate printers which use light refraction to minimize these scratches. Both optical and contact wet-gate printers were used in this project.

Photochemical With Digital Sections

At times there is extreme damage, which cannot be repaired photochemically. Damage to the emulsion due to mould or negative tears can be removed by digital repair. Both Blithe Spirit and This Happy Breed benefited from digital work. The damaged film sections were scanned in and digital software was used to restore the picture. Both manual and automated tools were used to remove a green sparkling and mottling effect. The sections were then recorded out to separations and printed back to the negative for preservation. Registration of the three-strip Technicolor process is a continuing issue for restoration experts. The registration, ie the correct alignment on screen of the three colour elements, of the David Lean films was completed at Cineric Labs.

Full Digital Intermediate

The advantages offered by this expensive process are a consistent grading look, and the ability to carry out more extensive scratch removal. Each frame of the film is scanned at the highest possible resolution. The entire film is then digitally restored with experts using software written especially for the removal of scratches, dirt and tears. The restored digital images are recorded out to film for preservation and presentation. In Which We Serve and Brief Encounter were selected for this process due to extreme damage in the original elements.

The final stage of the restoration process is the preservation of the elements onto film. Polyester elements of both picture and sound were made on all films. In the case of colour films, black and white separation masters were also produced as a way to store black and white copies of the yellow, cyan and magenta records.

Andrea Kalas is Senior Preservation Manager and Nigel Algar is Senior Curator for Fiction at the BFI.

rwaits
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:24 pm

#15 Post by rwaits » Mon Jul 14, 2008 8:15 pm

Can't seem to find the thread I was looking for... Isn't there speculation that Criterion is to revisit the early Lean films? Pretty sure I read this here...If so, is there any word on when?

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aox
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#16 Post by aox » Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:22 pm

Just a heads up, this weekend begins a multi-week retrospective on Lean at Film Forum in NYC.

Brief Encounter, Blithe Spirit, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations this weekend.

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HerrSchreck
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#17 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:24 am

..and Lawrence next wk. Seeing it on the big screen is, as Ebert says, a pilgrimage every lover of cinema must make at least once in a lifetime.

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myrnaloyisdope
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#18 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:..and Lawrence next wk. Seeing it on the big screen is, as Ebert says, a pilgrimage every lover of cinema must make at least once in a lifetime.
I had the good fortune of seeing it on the big screen a couple months ago here in Calgary, which is remarkable given how abysmal the cinema scene is here.

It still bored the shit out of me.

I want to like it but I just don't. I really like everything else I've seen by Lean, even the much maligned, and similarly long Ryan's Daughter, which I thought was wonderful.

I just can't stand Lawrence of Arabia, yet I have the feeling I'll check it out every couple years just to be sure.

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domino harvey
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#19 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:10 am

I was also unimpressed with the film. It wasn't even that it was boring, because boredom at least would have been a response generated by the film. I wasn't anything, the movie just was.

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starmanof51
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#20 Post by starmanof51 » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:50 am

Saw it theatrically in Seattle about three months ago, for I think the seventh time starting with the '89 resto tour. Still an absolute joy, I hope I catch it at least seven more times before I die. I can't readily think of any film I've enjoyed more in the theater.

Can't really get through it on home video however.

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myrnaloyisdope
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#21 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:03 am

I've been working through the They Shoot Pictures Don't They? 1000 Greatest films list for the past year, and I'm nearing 900 films, and Lawrence of Arabia remains about the only film on the list I've genuinely disliked, well maybe The Producers too, but everything else on the list I've seen, even the films I didn't like I am able to comprehend their importance, ala Marienbad, but Lawrence just feels like a beautifully shot 4 hour wank-fest where I find myself unable to invest myself in the characters or the story in any way.
Last edited by myrnaloyisdope on Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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aox
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#22 Post by aox » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:05 am

LOA might be the better film to see in the theater, but I prefer Dr. Zhivago and might actually bypass LOA to see Dr. Z this week on the big screen. I also agree to being underwhelmed by LOA. It is no doubt a beautiful film and the cinematography is top notch, but I just have a hard time getting through it, unlike Dr. Z.

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domino harvey
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#23 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:08 am

I wish I could appreciate it on even an aesthetic level, but I was more impressed with Bitter Victory's desert scenes than I was with anything here. Perhaps I am not susceptible to the sort of epic spectacle at work here, which I just found tedious in its aimless grandiosity.

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ellipsis7
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#24 Post by ellipsis7 » Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:03 am

LOA is certainly spectacular and even majestic, especially in its genuine (pre CGI) imagery - but is also nearly 3 hours screentime without a single speaking part for a woman - maybe accounts for a certain coldness...

Been catching earlier Leans sporadically on Film Four (they're also out in new restored editions on R2 DVD) and I prefer altogether my discovery of THIS HAPPY BREED and THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS (& revisiting BRIEF ENCOUNTER) etc., which seem to ring far truer and really resonate with their time....

It may be that the advent of the British 'kitchen sink' working class dramas at the start of the 1960s, marginalising the dramas and romances of the suburban middle classes that were Lean's metier, pushed him towards the larger canvas pieces, arguable to their and his detriment...

Narshty
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#25 Post by Narshty » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:36 am

Anyone who doesn't much like David Lean should definitely read Kevin Brownlow's biography (even if it is about 25% too long for comfort). It clarified all the aspects of his work I don't like by demonstrating (even if this wasn't the intent of the book) how intrinsically they're related to the man himself. The only Lean film I've actually liked so far is A Passage to India, and the recognisable humanity in that film seems to stem largely from Lean taking a semi-forced sabbatical for 14 years and became rather more of a family man in that time (his discomfort with sustained intimacy was a lesson well known among the majority of his six wives and countless other attachments, and I think shows very clearly in his films).

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