Lean, Sir David

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Lean, Sir David

Sir David Lean, 1908–91, English film director, producer, and scriptwriter, b. Croyden, England. He entered the film industry in the 1920s, and had become one of Britain's most accomplished film editors before turning to directing with In Which We Serve (1942, with Noël Coward). His other early films include This Happy Breed (1944), Blithe Spirit (1945), and Brief Encounter (1946). Later films include forceful dramas adapted from literary works and lavish historically based epics. Of the former, Great Expectations (1946), Oliver Twist (1948), and Summertime (1955) stand out. Of the latter, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which is widely considered his masterpiece, and Dr. Zhivago (1965) are notable. After a 14-year hiatus, he returned with the well-received A Passage to India (1984), his last film. A perfectionist, famous for his superb craftsmanship, sensitive editing, and elegant compositions, he completed just 16 films during his lengthy career. Lean was knighted in 1984.

See biography by K. Brownlow (1996); S. Lean (his wife) and B. Chattington, David Lean: An Intimate Portrait (2001); G. D. Phillips, Beyond the Epic: The Life and Films of David Lean (2006).

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