Course overview

5 More Wonders from David Lean - Exploring a fresh selection of five cinematic works produced from the renown director David Lean furthering knowledge, understanding of the director’s work and film in general. David Lean, long regarded as an important figure in cinematic history and noted as the master of the screen epic. However, Lean had humble beginnings working as a newsreel editor, even before his move to Hollywood, he had a tally of smaller but memorable British classics. We revisit a mixed selection of Lean's output, some better known and more highly regarded than others.

Course description

David Lean began his career as a film editor a footing which many say this aided him in his later career as he moved onto larger scale projects, becoming known as the master of the big screen epic. Lean had early success with adaptations of Dickens classics and Brief Encounter but there were ups and downs, hits and misses. This course takes time to examine some key examples of Lean as master of the epic but also other lesser known examples and one or two which still divide critics and audiences. We explore Lean’s ‘interim’ films such as Sound Barrier which appear to have fallen into obscurity, similarly Summertime, a film which divided audiences but the director maintained was his own personal favourite. Study how and why A Passage to India and Bridge on the River Kwai evidence the master of the epic before revisiting Ryan’s Daughter, derided for years but since receiving a reappraisal. Is the statement that the earlier films had greater economy and better storytelling whilst later films were ruined by perfectionism and costume design is true. The techniques, the themes, the creative intentions. The Sound Barrier (1952), Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), A Passage to India (1984), Ryan’s Daughter (1970), Summertime (1955).

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