David Lean

23.03.1908, Croydon, UK - 16.04.1991, London, UK


British director, screenwriter and editor, David Lean was born on March 25th
1908 in Croydon, Great Britain. He died on April 16th 1991 in London. He came
from a Quaker family and as a boy he was not allowed to go to movie theaters.
From 1922 he began to work in the film industry. At first he worked in many
different helping positions (announcer of the beginning and ending of scene
takes, courier, as well as tea server for the directors!). From 1930 worked as
an editor. In the beginning he edited the film news, and from 1934 he
worked as editor of films in the Elstree studio (so, among others, he
edited films by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, as well as Michael Powell and
Emeric Pressburger). He made his directing debut, together with the British
writer and screenwriter Noel Coward, in the film In Which We Serve in
1942, which was nominated for the Oscar as the best film. Next year with his
future co-screenwriters Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelck-Allan, he founded their
company Cineguild in whose production he made This Happy Breed in
1944, Blithe Spirit in 1945 and Brief Encounter in 1946, which was
his first international success. All these films were adaptations of short
stories or theatre plays by Noel Coward, who co-wrote them as well. After the
success of the Brief Encounter he adapted for screen two literary works
by Charles Dickens – The Great Expectations, 1946, for which he was
nominated for an Oscar (best director and screenplay) and Oliver Twist
(1948) – which brought him more success and reputation. After that he directed
three films starring Ann Todd, his wife at the time - The Passionate Friend
(1948), Madeleine (1949) and The Sound Barrier (1952) for which he
was awarded by the British Film Academy for the best film and best
director. In 1954 he made a successful comedy Hobson's Choice. Then
followed the melodrama Summertime (1955), his first film shot outside of
Great Britain. For this film he was nominated for the Oscar in category best
director. Until 1984 he made five spectacular films, equally successful among
critics as well as the audience – The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), which won
7 Oscars (among other for best film and director); Lawrence of Arabia
(1962), also won 7 Oscars (once again for best film and director); Doctor
Zhivago (1965), nominated for Oscar in category of best director; Ryan's
Daughter (1970), a film that won the Oscar for best cinematpgraphy and
best supporting actor (John Mills); A Passage to India (1984), a film he
prepared for a long time, and finished after a fourteen years long break, for
which he received several nominations and an Oscar for best film and best
director. David Lean died at the age of 83. Death interrupted him in his work on
his new film Nostromo, an adaptation of the novel by Joseph Conrad.


A Passage to India (1984)
Ryan's Daughter (1970)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Summertime (1955)
Hobson's Choice (1954)
The Sound Barrier (1952)
Madeleine (1950)
Passionate Friends, The (1949)
Oliver Twist (1948)
Great Expectations (1946)
Brief Encounter (1946)
Blithe Spirit (1945)
This Happy Breed (1944)
In Which We Serve (1942)

Films by this director

In Wich We Serve

(UK, 1942)

Directed by: David Lean

War drama taking place in WW 2. This is the story of Torrin a British destroyer boat which has been hit and is sinking. Through flash-backs of survivors who cling onto anything that will float and wait for the rescue, we follow this humane story about them, their families and the ship on which they served and loved... This is an outstanding film starring Noel Coward, who was also the co director with David Lean, as well as producer and screenwriter.

b/w, 115'

Brief Encounter

(UK, 1945)

Directed by: David Lean
PHOTOGRAPHY: Robert Krasker

The action takes place in London after WW2. A houswife Laura Jesson susreće meets dr Alec Harvey in a cafe of the local train station. Although both are married, they fall in love. They regularly meet every Thursday in a small cafe, even though they are aware that their love stands little chance... The love scenes of the main protagonists, Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, according to many, are among the most endearing scenes in the history of film.

b/w, 86'



Directed by: David Lean

The film is based on a historical event that took place in the middle of the 19th century and shook the British justice system. The story is told in flash-backs and shows why Madeleine Smith, a young woman from a well off family from Glasgow, is being prosecuted for a murder of her lover Emile L'Angelier... The jury's ruling, shown in film, was still controversial at the time of the first screening of this film. The director David Lean and the screenwriters Stanley Haynes and Nichola...

b/w, 114 min

Hobson's Choice

(UK, 1953)

Directed by: David Lean
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jack Hildyard

Each day shoemaker Henry Horatio Hobson bosses around his employees and his three daughters. At night, drunk, he roams the streets of London. Maggie, his oldest daughter, frees herself from his tyranny by marrying Will Mossop. Together they open up a competitive shoemaking store. After that she plans to help her other two sisters get rid of their tyrannical father and marry their sweethearts…This great comedy with style and zest achieved much success outside of Great Britain. In the...

b/w, 108'

Great Expectations

(UK, 1946)

Directed by: David Lean

The version of the classic Charles Dickens story of Pip, an orphaned British boy who is befriended by a mysterious benefactor who enables him to become a gentleman of means... This film won two Oscars (nominated for 4 - including the category the best director and screenplay)

b/w, 118'


(UK, USA, 1955)

Directed by: David Lean
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jack Hildyard

An American, Jane Hudson, arrives in Venice, on her first trip to Europe. She is hoping to have a romantic love affair. Soon, she meets the handsome Renato Di Rossi and spends a couple of romantic days with him. But, he confesses to her that he is married and has children…

color, 100'

The Bridge on the River Kwai

(UK, USA, 1957)

Directed by: David Lean
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jack Hildyard

The year is 1943. British soldiers, captured by the Japanese in Siam, are building a railroad from Bangkok to Rangoon. A special platoon led by colonel Nicholson has an order to build a bridge over the river Kwai. That bridge would be a vital road for Japanese war forces. After British officers receive an order to work together with their soldiers, there emerges a moral battle between colonel Nicholson and the Japanese colonel Saito. In spite of the torture that he has to endure, the British off...

color, 161'

Ryan's Daughter

(UK, 1970)

Directed by: David Lean
PHOTOGRAPHY: Freddie Young

Ireland, 1916. Rosy Ryan, daughter of Tom Ryan, owner of the local pub, is married to a simple and unattractive school teacher, Charles Shaughnessy. She has a love affair with the British military officer, Randolph Doryan. After they are discovered by the village fool, Michael, people start to gossip. Charles doesn’t pay any attention to what people are saying, and is convinced that Rosy will come to her senses. Soon after, Rosy’s father turns in a few of the IRA members, hoping to e...

color, 206'

A Passage to India

(UK, USA, 1984)

Directed by: David Lean

Colonial India, 1924. A young and educated British woman, Adela Quested, arrives in Chandrapore. She is hoping to discover the real India. She meets Dr Aziz and they become friends. Aziz feels comfortable with Adela and soon invites her for a trip. Adela comes back with bruises and accuses Aziz of rape. The ruling British government convicts Dr Aziz, before the legal trial has even begun…

color, 164'

Oliver Twist

(UK, 1948)

Directed by: David Lean

This is a film adaptation of Dickens’ novel starring John Howard Davies as Twist and Alec Guinness as Fagin, the leader of the gang of young pickpockets that Oliver joins after arriving in London. At the time it was made, the film created controversy because of how Alec Guinness’ character was supposedly depicted in an anti-Semitic manner. It was shown in the US three years after its premiere in London, in a shortened version, while it was completely banned in Israel and Egypt.

b/w, 105'

Lawrence of Arabia

(UK, 1962)

Directed by: David Lean
PHOTOGRAPHY: Freddie Young

Nakon što Thomas Edward Lawrence u dobi od 46 godina pogine u prometnoj nesreći, do koje je došlo jer je tijekom vožnje motocikla skrenuo da bi izbjegao dvojicu dječaka na biciklima, na njegovoj komemoraciji među nazočnima se povede razgovor o pokojniku. Lawrence je bio britanski diplomat, potpukovnik, pripadnik tajne službe, vojni pilot, arheolog i pisac u čijem se životu kao ključno razdoblje izdvojilo ono tijekom Prvog svjetskog rata. U to vrijeme on je kao poručnik britanske vo...

color, 216'

This Happy Breed

(UK, 1944)

Directed by: David Lean

London, neposredno nakon Prvog svjetskog rata. Ulicama grada prolaze vojnici, ratni pobjednici, muškarci se napokon vraćaju svojim kućama. Obitelj Gibbons useljava u kuću u kojoj će svoj kutak imati svi njezini članovi, glava obitelji Frank, njegova supruga Ethel, njihovih troje djece, teta Sylvia i baka, gospođa Flint, majka gospođe Ethe. Unatoč povremenim trzavicama, život u novoj kući je obilježen srećom i veseljem. U susjedstvu Gibbonsa sa svojom obitelji živi Bob Mitchell, Frankov ra...

color, 115'

Blithe Spirit

(UK, 1945)

Directed by: David Lean

Naočiti Charles Condomine uspješan je romanopisac iz britanske grofovije Kent, oženjen privlačnom Ruth. Ruth je Charlesova druga supruga, jer je on već bio oženjen atraktivnom Elvirom koja je poginula u tragičnoj prometnoj nesreći. Kad mu pri pisanju novog romana zatreba složeniji psihološki profil jednog lika, Charles uz pomoć medija Madam Arcati i u društvu obiteljskih prijatelja Georgea i Violet Bradman odluči prirediti spiritističku seansu i tijekom nje pokušati p...

color, 96'

The Passionate Friends

(UK, 1949)

Directed by: David Lean

Privlačna Mary Justin senzibilna je mlada žena udana za znatno starijeg i dobrostojećeg bankara Howarda Justina, žena koja udobno živi u naizgled skladnom braku bez ljubavi. Kad se zatekne na odmoru u švicarskim Alpama, dok čeka Howarda koji kasni zbog poslovnih obveza, Mary u hotelu Splendide poslije devet godina ponovo susretne naočitog Stevena Strattona. Tijekom studentskih dana Steven je bio njena velika ljubav, a Mary ga je odbacila zbog sigurnosti koju joj je tada mogao pružiti brak...

b/w, 95'

Doctor Zhivago

(UK, Italy, USA, 1965)

Directed by: David Lean
PHOTOGRAPHY: Freddie Young

Godine 1936. general Crvene armije Jevgraf Živago naiđe na mladu radnicu za koju pretpostavi da bi mogla biti kći njegova polubrata Jurija Živaga i njegove velike ljubavi Lare. Stoga Jevgraf odluči djevojci prepričati najvažnije detalje iz Jurijeva života, vjerujući da bi se ona tako mogla prisjetiti nekih detalja te potvrditi njegovu pretpostavku. Jurij je još kao dječak, krajem 19. stoljeća, ostao siroče, a odgojen je u okrilju bogate moskovske obitelji Aleksandra Gromeka. Diplomirav&sc...

color, 197'

The Sound Barrier

(UK, 1952)

Directed by: David Lean
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jack Hildyard

U Velikoj Britaniji tijekom Drugog svjetskog rata, dobrostojeći zrakoplovni konstruktor John Ridgefield je inovativnom tehnologijom značajno pridonio razvoju britanskih zračnih snaga. Nakon što rat završi, Ridgefield se upusti u konstrukciju novog mlaznog aviona koji bi trebao letjeti brže od zvuka. No svi pokušaji završavaju tako što se piloti prilikom testnih letova suočavaju s čini se nepremostivom zvučnom barijerom, što dovodi i do smrtonosnih nesreć...

b/w, 109'
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