Tag: David Lean

Guns-of-Navarone-e1287144963957

Much like Henry Ford’s innovation of the assembly line revolutionized mass production, the Hollywood studio system reliably churned out hits for the masses during its Golden Age. Desolate acres of California desert were transformed into a conglomeration of studio back lots. Until the late 1950s, studios produced escapism films favored by American audiences as a method of distraction from the looming realities of war. As the mood began to change on the home front, as did the creative process of filmmakers. The reliable Hollywood formula was reconfigured and now consisted of global productions with international casts, on location filming, and ambiguous plots.

January 15, 2009 / / Film Notes

By Peggy Nelson

Dr. Zhivago – 1965 – dir. David Lean

There are many characters in David Lean’s Dr. Zhivago (1965), the sprawling, epic portrayal of people caught up in the Russian Revolution, the least of which is, surprisingly, Dr. Zhivago himself.   In addition to Zhivago, Lara, Komorovsky, Pasha, and a host of others, there is the land, the weather, the first World War, the mountains, the interminable train ride, the tide of political events, the Five-Year Plans, even the giant posters of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, all playing their parts and threatening to upstage the action.  Beside all these a small story about love and betrayal should pale; as Strelnikov claims in the film, “the personal life is dead in Russia.”  But it is Lean’s achievement that it is not: it more than holds its own, and forms the core around which the rest crash and swirl.

January 15, 2009 / / Film Notes

By Peggy Nelson

Lawrence of Arabia – 1962 – dir. David Lean

Size DOES matter.

Some films need to be seen on the big screen.  I first saw Lawrence of Arabia (dir. by David Lean, 1962) on one of the biggest, the UC Theatre in Berkeley, California.  A giant screen is not only the appropriate frame for the stunning cinematography in this film, it is the only canvas large enough for its title subject.  T. E. Lawrence was one of those rare people whose life comprised a perfect storm of circumstance and talent, creating a man worthy of a 70mm, almost 4-hour film; a figure truly larger than life.

December 31, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Peggy Nelson

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence – dir. Nagisa Oshima – 1983

Prisoner of war films offer an eye-of-the-storm perspective from which to contemplate the chaos of war.  In the tradition of Jean Renoir’s The Grand Illusion (1937), and David Lean’s Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957), Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence investigates the psyches of men from very different cultures in this tale of British captives in a Japanese POW camp.  Co-written by Oshima and Paul Mayersberg from an Afrikaner’s published memoirs, Oshima uses the perspective of the non-Japanese to turn his lens on WWII Japan.