David Lean

By Melanie Williams

David Lean


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1681-9
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £17.99
  • Published Date: June 2017
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, PERFORMING ARTS / Individual Director, The arts / Individual film directors, film-makers
  • Series: British Film-Makers


'A rule of mine is this', said William Goldman in 1983, 'there are always three hot directors and one of them is always David Lean.' One of the best known and most admired of British film makers, David Lean had a directorial career that spanned five decades and encompassed everything from the intimate black-and-white romance of Brief Encounter (1945) to the spectacular Technicolor epic of Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

This book offers comprehensive coverage of every feature film directed by Lean, yielding new insights on the established classics of his career as well as its lesser-known treasures. Its analysis prioritises questions of gender and emphasises the often-overlooked but highly significant recurrence of female-centred narratives throughout Lean's career. Drawing extensively on archival historical materials while also presenting nuanced close readings of individual films, David Lean offers a fascinating and original account of the work of a remarkable British film maker.


This valuable and enjoyable book serves as a useful reminder for those of us exploring the obscurer reaches of British cinema that there are major landmarks out there which we would be unwise to ignore.


1. Cutting and coward: David Lean's early career and In Which We Serve (1942), This Happy Breed (1944) and Blithe Spirit (1945)
2. Nineteenth century blues: Great Expectations (1946), Oliver Twist (1948), Madeleine (1950) and Hobson's Choice (1954)
3. Women in love: Brief Encounter (1945), The Passionate Friends (1949) and Summer Madness (1955)
4. Men of Vision: The Sound Barrier (1952), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
5. Feminising the epic: Doctor Zhivago (1965), Ryan's Daughter (1970) and A Passage to India (1984)
Select Bibliography


Melanie Williams is Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia

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