Magazine article American Cinematographer

David Lean

Magazine article American Cinematographer

David Lean

Article excerpt

David Lean by Kevin Brownlow St. Martin's Press, 831 pps., cloth, $40

However tormented David Lean's private life appears to have been, the British director was in some respects the most fortunate of men. Although memories of a dark and troubled childhood must have haunted Lean during production of his Dickens films - Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948) - these traumas probably contributed to the greatness of both. And his own fractious nature may have provided some insights when he was probing the soul of England's most enigmatic adventurer in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He gave his all to his work - progressing from gofer to assistant cameraman to film editor to director - leaving in his wake a tangle of unhappy marriages, stormy relationships and fine films. As Oscar Wilde observed, "We pay for what the gods give us."

Lean was a genius in his chosen field, and thus became the envy of anyone who aspired to create great cinema. He was also fortunate to have placed the telling of his life in the hands of Kevin Brownlow, a fellow Englishman whose accomplishments as a film historian and director of film-oriented documentaries are of the highest caliber. This epic biography about a maker of epic films is a worthy companion to Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By and The War, the West and the Wilderness. …

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