All entries for Sunday 30 March 2008

March 30, 2008

David Lean (1908 – 1991)


David Lean (Croydon 1908 - 1991)

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David Lean filming This Happy Breed

David Lean filming the funfair sequence of This Happy Breed


Introduction  


David Lean was the son of Quaker parents and as such the cinema was forbidden territory on religious grounds. Lean disobeyed his parents and saw the Hound of the Baskervilles (1921) and was instantly won over to cinema. Lean entered the film business in 1927.

David Lean Editing

Throughout his career David Lean was closely involved with editing

Lean concentrated on editing whilst closely observing how directors worked, he nevertheless laregly avoided making the ‘quota quickies’ as he was concerned that these wouldn't help his career. He quickly gained the reputation for being the best editor in the country working on Pygmalion (1938), and Powell and Pressburger’s 49th Parallel (1941). Lean then worked with Noel Coward on In Which We Serve (1942). Lean then made Blithe Spirit (1945) a Coward play which Coward felt he had not made the best of.

Leans Brief Encounter

Celia Johnson as Laura Jesson & Trevor Howard as Dr. Alec Harvey from David Lean's Brief Encounter (1945).

Brief Encounter (1945) was based upon a one act play by Coward. It had a disastrous preview which had the audience in hysterics nevertheless the film has now become a classic.It can however be seen as a very conservative film as its basic message is part of an overall post-war message that women should get back to their prewar positions in society following the much freer moral milieu of wartime Britian especially in London and the big cities. 


Kevin Brownlow argues that Lean’s two Dickens adaptations of Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948) are still regarded as the finest among all British films. Unsurprisingly American critics in particular complained that the representation of Fagin was deeply anti-semitic and was similar to much Nazi anti-pre-war propaganda. They were so effective that the filkm wasn't released immediately and had to be edited before its eventual release. Lean's defence was that the looks of the character were modelled on the original illustrations for the text by Cruickshank and that furthermore as a Quaker he didn't have any notion of what anti-semitism was. This is a little hard to swallow from somebody who had an astute and acute visual awareness. There can have been few adults in 1948 who were unaware of the realities of the 'Holocaust' and at best this representation could be considered as insensitive. Who is to say that Cruickshank wasn't anti-Semitic in any case?

fagin_in_oliver_twist_web.jpg


Alec Guiness as Fagin on the right in Lean's Oliver Twist (1948)


Passionate Friends (1948) followed. Madelaine (1949) by comparison fared rather les well being seen by many as cold tributes to his third wife. In the 1950s he progressed through The Sound Barrier (1952), to Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957 UK) gaining several Oscars including best picture and best director. In 1962 he made Lawrence of Arabia which also received many awards and is considered by many as a masterpiece. This was followed in 1965 by Dr. Zhivago which received public support through the box office despite many reservations from critics.

Sarah miles as Ryans Daughter

Sarah Miles in Ryan's Daughter (1970)

Ryan’s Daughter (1970) was seen as a very old fashioned picture and was badly received by critics although it can now be seen as interesting in its representation of Irish resistance to British rule. In 1984 He made Passage to India which gained critical plaudits and academy recognition. He died just before shooting on Nostromo was about to start. In the August editionof sight & Sound Nick James argues that it was Lean that was the grandfather of the British 'Heritage Film' making specific reference to Passage to India (1984). Arguably Lean's contributions to heritage cinema are embedded in most of his cinematic output. Blithe Spirit, Brief Encounter, seem to be infused with a sense of nostalgia a sense of a mythical golden age which was somehow lost. Most of them show a sense of anxiety with the processes of change and a loss of the notions of fairness and fairplay which Powell & Pressburger had hearlity dismissed in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. 



Filmography

Money for Speed (1933). Directed Bernard Vorhaus. (David Lean Editor)

The Ghost Camera (1933). Directed Bernard Vorhaus. (Editor David Lean)

As You Like It (1937). Directed Paul Czinner (David Lean Editor)

Pygmalion (1938). Directed Anthony Asquith (David Lean Editor)

49th Parallel (1941). Directed Powell & Pressburger (David Lean Editor)

One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942). Directed Powell & Pressbuger (David Lean Editor)

In Which We Serve (1942). Directed David Lean & Noël Coward

This Happy Breed (1944). Directed David Lean. [First official credit as sole director]

Blithe Spirit (1945. Directed David Lean

Brief Encounter (1945). Directed David Lean

Great Expectations (1946). Directed David Lean

Oliver Twist (1948). Directed David Lean

The Passionate Friends (1948). Directed David Lean

Madelaine (1949). Directed David Lean

The Sound Barrier (1952). Directed David Lean

Hobson's Choice (1953). directed David Lean

Summer Madness (1955). Directed David Lean

The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957). Directed David Lean

Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Directed David Lean

Doctor Zhivago (1965). Directed David Lean

Ryan's Daughter (1970). Directed David Lean

Passage to India (1984). Directed by David Lean

Webliography 

Screenonline biography of David Lean  

British Film Institute (BFI) David Lean Film Restoration Project

BFI David Lean Restoration This Happy Breed


Bibliography 

Sight and Sound August 2008. Nick James David Lean special feature Part II

Sight and Sound July 2008. Nick James David Lean special feature Part I


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Anthony Asquith (1902–1968)


Anthony Asquith (1902-1968)


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Anthony Asquith Helen Wilson
Anthony Asquith by Helen Wilson in the National Portrait Gallery



Introduction

Anthony Asquith was born in 1902 whose father Herbert  Asquith became the Liberal Prime Minister of the UK from 1908-1916. He gained the nickname of 'Puffin' and was educated at Winchester and Oxford. Drazin notes Asquith's enthusiasm with film as an undergraduate when he sometimes saw up to three films a day.

Upon leaving university he went to Los Angeles for about six months where he came into contact with many of the leading figures in the film industry. On his return to the UK he was determined to enter the film business which wasn't then consider a 'respectable'career for somebody of his background as Drazin notes:

At the time it was an extraordinary aspiration for someone of his class to have, the cinema generally being frowned upon as a rather tawdry diversion for the masses... . (Drazin 2007 p 187)



Early Years in the Industry

He went to work with Bruce Woolfe for British Instructional Films which was a company formed in 1919 that specialised in documentary reconstructions of World War 1 as well as a series of natural history documentaries. In 1925 Asquith was so embedded in film culture he became a founding member of the London Film Society and was enthusiastic about all the latest films from Germany, Russia etc. In 1926 he joined Woolfe at the Stoll Film Company in Cricklewood as a general assistant.  Asquith was to direct 4 short films in the late 1920s. His first sound film was Tell England (1931). Asquith joined Gainsborugh Films in 1932 and worked on both screenwriting and directing. In 1935 he joined Korda's London Films directing Moscow Nights in 1935. In 1937 he became President of the recently formed Association of Cine Technicians. He held this position until 1968 when he died of cancer in February whilst working on a film.

The recently released Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) from BFI has been regarded by many as providing the evidence that at this stage in his career Asquith was at least as good as if not better than Hitchcock.


Pygmalion

Pygmalion

Asquith's breakthrough film was Pygmalion (1938) on which George Bernard Shaw himself worked on the script. It gained a nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and gained Oscars for adaptation and its screenpaly. It was Shaw who won the latter. Asquith's next film French Without Tears (1940) was the first of ten films which he directed in collaboration with Terence Rattigan the playwright.

Asquith During the War

Asquith's Wartime output was prolific it encompassed straightforward war stories such as We Dive at Dawn, Spy Thriller propaganda such as Cottage to Let (1941), comedy as in Quiet Wedding (1941)and also the well-known Gainsborough melodrama Fanny by Gaslight (1944).


Phyllis Calvert and Margretta Scott in Fanny by Gaslight


Phyllis Calvert and Margretta Scott in Fanny by Gaslight (1944)

Asquith's Postwar Output

After the war Asquith continued to make films on a regular basis of around one per year. He made several films which Terence Rattigan had scripted including Rattigan's most successful plays The Winslow Boy (1948) and The Browning Version (1951).

Browning Version 1

The Browning Version

Asquith also continued to make films from the British literary repertoire such as The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). Asquith worked in a number of genres and ended up working on large budget co-productions with US companies. Despite promising beginnings Asquith never became a director who own powerful vision came through as something of an auteur unlike his contemporary Alfred Hitchcock. Asquith has been considered as more of a metteur en scene.

Importance of Being Earnest

From Asquith 1952 version of The Importance of Being Earnest


Filmography

External Links to many of these films can be found under Key films of The Second World War and British Cinema and Society Chronology 1939-1951


The Browning Version (1951)

The Winslow Boy (1948)

While the Sun Shines (1947)

The Way to the Stars (1945)

Fanny by Gaslight (1944)

Two Fathers (1944)

The Demi-Paradise (1943)

We Dive at Dawn (1943)

Uncensored (1942)

Cottage to Let (1941) Not yet open

Quiet Wedding (1941)

Freedom Radio (1941)

Rush Hour (1941)

French Without Tears (1940)

Channel Incident (1940)

Pygmalion (1938)

A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929)




Webliography 

Screenonline biography of Anthony Asquith


Geoffrey McNab on Asquith: Guardian 2003


Screenonline: Asquith (1952) The Importance of Being Earnest


Select Bibliography 

Caughie, John with Rockett, Kevin. 1996. The Companion to British and Irish Cinema. London: Cassells

Drazin, Charles. 2007. The Finest Years: British Cinema of the 1940s. London: I. B. Tauris



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British Directors (Non–Contemporary) Hub Page

British Directors (Non-Contemporary) Hub Page


For current or recently passed away British Film Directors please go to the Contemporary British Directors Hub Page.


Introduction


This page is designed to allow visitors to access information on a range of past British diectors and where appropriate informational hubs and critiques of specific films as these are developed.  The links are both internal and external ones


Non-Contemporary British Film Directors






Anderson, Lindsay (1923-1994)

Lindsay Anderson

Lindsay Anderson (Above)


Asquith, Anthony (1902-1968)

Anthony Asquith

Anthony Asquith  (Above)

Boulting, John (1913-1985)

John Boulting

John Boulting


Boulting, Roy (1913-2001)

Roy and John Boulting 2

Roy and John Boulting (Above)


Box Muriel (1905 - 1991)

Muriel Box

Muriel Box (Above)

Cavalcanti, Alberto (Brazilian born cosmopolitan 1897-1982)

Alberto Cavalcanti

Alberto Cavalcanti (Above)

Clayton, Jack (1921-1995)



Craigie, Jill (1911-1999) 


Jill Craigie with Husband Michael Foot

Jill Craigie with Husband Michael Foot (Above)


Crighton, Charles (1910-1999)



Deardon, Basil (1911-1971)

Douglas, Bill (1937-1991)

Dupont, E.A. (1891-1956)

Forbes, Bryan (1926-)

Frend, Charles (1909-1977)

Gilliat, Sidney (1908-1994)

John Grierson (1898-1972) 

Grierson, Ruby (1904-1940)

Hamer, Robert (1911-1963)

Hamilton, Guy (1922-)

Jennings, Humphrey (1907-1950)

Korda, Alexander (1893-1956)

Lean, David  (1908 - 1991)

David Lean on Great Expectations

David Lean on set

Lee, Jack (1913-2002)

Lee Thompson, J. (1914-2002)

Lester, Richard (US 1932-)

Losey, Joe (US but made many important films in Britain 1909 - 1984) 

Mackendrick, Alexander (1912-1993)

Mander, Kay (1915-)  

Montagu, Ivor (1904-1984)

Powell, Michael (1905-1990)

Pressburger, Emeric (1902-1988)

Reed, Carol (1906-1976)

Reisz, Karel (1926-2002)

Richardson, Tony

Tony Richardson

Tony Richardson (Above)

Roeg, Nicolas (1928-)

Rotha, Paul (1907-1984)

Russell, Ken (1927-)

Schlesinger, John (1926-2003)

Toye, Wendy (1917 - )

Watkins, Peter (1935-)

Young, Terence (1915-1994)


Webliography

For a useful range of biographical information also see the Screenonline Directors in British and Irish Cinema  


Textual Analysis OCR. Check list

Textual Analysis Exam OCR Media

Below is table which can act as checklist for revision of the action adventure film extract. It includes a wide range of shots and camera devices. It is unlikely that everything will be in one four to five minute extract.  

Table of Moving Image Textual Analysis Terms  

///////////////////

Shot type

Minute 1

Minute 2

Minute 3

Minute 4

Minute 5

ELS






LS






MS






Plan Americain






MCU






CU






ECU






Shot reverse Shot






Over the shoulder






High angle






Low angle






Tracking Shot






Dollying






Zoom in






Reverse Zoom






Pan






Whip Pan






Tilt up






Tilt down






Aerial Shot






Underwater shot






POV shot






Eyeline Match






Sound

///////////////////

////////////////////

////////////////////

/////////////////////

////////////////////

Diegetic






Non Diegetic






Synchronous






Non Synchrounous






Transitions

///////////////////

/////////////////////

///////////////////

/////////////////////

////////////////////

Cut






Wipe






Superimpositions






Fade out / Fade in






Ellipsis


























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