David Lean – Meaty Dramas And Visual Treats

David Lean Movies
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When it comes to epics, you cannot beat David Lean. He was a master in that category, a director who got every location and detail right. His works are visually spectacular with strong storylines and popularly accepted despite their length.

Lean’s cinematic career started as a tea boy in a studio before he graduated to a clapper boy and finally a third assistant director.  He began with small scale but good films before going to spectacular hits. His favourite actor was the late Sir Alec Guinness who acted in six of his films.

Here are some of Lean’s greatest films worth revisiting:

Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)Cast: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
Director: David Lean

The leader of the British troops transported from Burma to Japan and held prisoner there, Col Nicholson (Guinness), is a stubborn and principled man who doesn’t compromise and revolts.

When the Japanese leader of the camp orders him to build a crucial bridge he agrees because he feels it would be a grand monument to British valour in the Second World War. Actually it is a monument for himself.

The unhappy Allies send a mission to destroy the bridge along with an American (William Holden).

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Doctor Zhivago (1965)Cast: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Alec Guinness, Tom Courtenay, Rod Steiger, Ralph Richardson, Rita Tushingham
Director: David Lean

The film is set in the pre-First World War, World War and the Russian Revolution and recounts the tale of a physician and a poet Dr Yury Zhivago (Omar Sharif), his married life and his long time lover Lara (Julie Christie).

But the affair is doomed and the doctor marries his cousin Tonya (Chaplin). But years later he meets Lara and their love affair ignites. But things get complicated and the inevitable happens.

Though three hours long, the beautiful scenery, snowy landscapes and the bitter love story keeps you involved at all times.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)Cast: Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Jack Hawkins, Arthur Kennedy, I S Johar
Director: David Lean

The desert is in focus in this Lean epic where the life and times of a British officer T E Lawrence and his battles during the First Worl d War is told. He manages to unite many warring factions in the Middle East to fight the Turks.

He is sent out the find Prince Faisal (Guinness) and with the help of Sherif Ali (Sharif) to defeat the Turks.  But Lawrence defies his superiors and takes a long and arduous route across the desert to blow up a Turkish port.

The wonderful cinematography, great acting by O’Toole and others made this film an all-time classic.

Passage to India (1984)

Passage to India (1984)Cast: Peggy Ashcroft, Victor Banerji, James Fox, Alec Guinness, Judy Davis, Nigel Havers
Director: David Lean

India in the 1920s is featured in this film where two British ladies Adela (Davis) and Mrs Moore (Ashcroft) are travelling to the country under British rule. They find that the British community has not integrated with the locals.

They come across an elderly Brahmin scholar (Guinness) and a Dr Aziz Ahmed (Banerji) who hosts them for an excursion to nearby caves. But things go wrong as Adele is seen running wildly before disappearing.

Dr Aziz is arrested for rape but the ladies come to his rescue which Aziz learns later. The film won11 Oscar nominations with Ashcroft winning in the Best Supporting Role category,

Brief Encounter (1945)

Brief Encounter (1945)Cast: Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey
Director: David Lean

This is one of Lean’s earlier efforts and it deals with British suburban life where a married woman, Laura (Johnson), with three kids meets a stranger, Dr Alec Harvey (Howard) at a railway station.

Her life begins to get complicated as they fall in love with each other after meeting regularly.  But the spanner in the works arrives in the form of a friend. The couple now know that their love is doomed and decide for one final goodbye at the station restaurant.

But fate plays a cruel hand and that just doesn’t happen the way they planned. It is a very touching film and cleverly directed by Lean.

Babu Kalyanpur

Babu Kalyanpur, ( Consulting Editor) has rich experience in both sports and business journalism. Babu has led news desks in Pune and Bahrain and writes extensively on his passion, sports and business besides current affairs and matters of importance to Pune.

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