Saturday, March 18, 2006

Filmmakers I adore: David Lean

David Lean is someone that has made a film for every mood. He’s done epic, romance, comedy and nostalgia, and he has worked on each one with the same dexterity and skill. He is a filmmaker that I truly adore.

Quintessentially British, uber-classy and without a stinker on his CV, Lean works with British actors and concepts, creating masterworks on potentially dull topics (eg marital boredom). Trains also play a large part in his films, as they often help the plot along. Indeed, I’m thinking in particular of Brief Encounter, where the two protagonists meet outside the train station. He also has an eye for gorgeous visuals - note the beautiful cinematography of Lawrence of Arabia or Doctor Zhivago.

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There are a few ways to check whether you’re watching Lean film, and the first is this – it’s an Alec Guinness film that’s not Star Wars. Lean frequently casts Alec Guinness, and together, the two form an excellent double act, giving Lean some excellent opportunities for direction, and Guinness some fabulous performances. But it isn't just Guinness that Lean can coax great performances out of - under his direction, 11 performances have gone on to be nominated for an Oscar, and Lean has gotten great work from the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Celia Johnson, Peter O'Toole and John Mills.

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However, though I adore the likes of Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai, it is in my opinion that Lean’s best films are all his most underrated ones. His take on Great Expectations was a brilliant one, that stayed completely true to the novel, and coaxed a marvellous performance from John Mills. Summertime is a classy counter piece to Brief Encounter, featuring one of Katie Hepburn’s best performances and some pretty scenery. And let’s not forget This Happy Breed, his first colour film, which showed a family through the war. Nostalgic, distinctive, and funny, it is the underseen gem of the 40s.

Best Direction
01. Lawrence of Arabia
02. The Bridge on the River Kwai
03. Brief Encounter
04. Great Expectations
05. Doctor Zhivago

Best Films
01. Brief Encounter
02. This Happy Breed
03. Lawrence of Arabia
04. Hobson’s Choice
05. Great Expectations
06. Summertime
07. The Bridge on the River Kwai
08. In Which we Serve
09. Blithe Spirit
10. The Sound Barrier

17 comments:

MysticFist said...

This Happy Breed better than Lawrence of Arabia?! Well, Lawrence and Bridge are by far his best films and directional efforts as far as I'm concerned, but it is true that he showed he also had what it takes to faultlessly direct small-scaled films.

BEST DIRECTION
01. Lawrence of Arabia (wow)
02. The Bridge on the River Kwai
03. Brief Encounter
04. Great Expectations (good pick, the first minutes are a masterpiece of direction and the atmosphere he somehow manages to set is impressive - too bad the rest of the film is not at the same level)
05. Oliver Twist (a few sequences in Zhivago, especially the ones supposed to be intimate, were pretty clumsily directed... and the acting wasn't all that great. Some great visuals aside, it's not much of a film)

BEST FILMS
01. Lawrence of Arabia
02. The Bridge on the River Kwai
03. Brief Encounter (great film; shame about the superfluous - and totally unrealistic - voice-over narration)
04. Oliver Twist
05. Great Expectations (you really liked Mills in this one? I thought he was so terribly miscast and old for the role!)
06. A Passage to India
07. In Which We Serve
08. Blithe Spirit
09. This Happy Breed
10. Doctor Zhivago (not bad at all, just not as good as most of his other films... certainly better than the likes of The Passionate Friends, though).

Yeah, Lean has got to be one of my favourites, thanks for reminding me of that. *updates profile*

Midge said...

He is one of my favourite directors also. Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia are 2 of my favourites.

Midge said...

He is one of my favourite directors also. Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia are 2 of my favourites.

Anonymous said...

Do Jake next

y.t. said...

One of Britain's finest directors, Lean's films have social and artistic relevance.

Sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

Wow this is some site.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving the appearances of Sarsgaard on the list, but whatever possessed you to add Osment in the top 3?

Clare said...

See, I'm going to go on a limb and say... This Happy Breed was so boring!

MOVIE FREAK'S BLOG said...

FIST is dumb. Ignore his brief encounter remarks. It's his second best, and my favorite. I think Bridge deserves to be higher... and Zhivago although difficult to sit through has some scenes that stick in you. This Happy Breed I'm watching next week.

MysticFist said...

Oh, shut up, Da Freak. Think Undy will care about what someone who hated her Phil in Capote has to say about film in general?

Rubes said...

I didn't like Lawrence of Arabia. If you ask me, that should me on your insomnia list.

Emma said...

Yeah. You didn't like Capote, yet loved Lost in Overation? Shudder.

Sol said...

Lean's best directed films (from what I have seen) are Great Expectations and Oliver Twist, followed by Madeleine. Have you seen all of them?

hater said...

go kill yourself. fag

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