films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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Doctor Zhivago

1965 / 197m - USA
Romance, War
Doctor Zhivago poster

The most British film I've seen in quite a while. Which is a bit weird for a story that's supposed to be about the Russian Revolution. A cast of British actors prancing around in Spain just doesn't really read like Russia. It's a good thing Lean can fall back on some impressive visuals, otherwise this would've been a complete waste.

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Zhivago, a promising young man, sees his life uprooted by World War I and the October Revolution. He marries and wants to dedicate his life to his family, but politics keep getting in the way of their plans to lead a peaceful life. A story quite epic in scope, though in the end it's really just a simple romance.

Performances are pretty poor, even ignoring the terrible casting choices for a moment. The story has its ups and down, but with more than 200 minutes to sit through there are too many parts that drag. The cinematography can be quite impressive, though it borders on kitsch. Let's call it a typical Lean film then.

Lawrence of Arabia

1962 / 228m - UK
Adventure, War
Lawrence of Arabia poster

The Bridge on the River Kwai

1957 / 161m - UK
War, Adventure
The Bridge on the River Kwai poster

Great Expectations

1946 / 118m - UK
Drama, Romance
Great Expectations poster

David Lean certainly isn't the worst classic director I know, though his films are a bit too lofty and rigid to be truly to my liking. Great Expectations is no different. It is a fine companion piece to Lean's Brief Encounter, but ultimately I didn't really care for the characters, nor the story.

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The plot spans quite the timeline, starting with a young Pip aiding an escaped prisoner and helping out Miss Havisham, an old spinster. When Pip is older an unknown benefactor is providing for his livelihood, but not knowing where his money comes from seriously complicates Pip's life.

From there on out the story becomes more complicated, but without characters to care for it doesn't really matter. At least the cinematography is nice, with very detailed sets that look their finest in black and white. Performances are too wooden though and the pacing is sluggish, especially for a film that kisses the two hour mark.

Brief Encounter

1945 / 86m - UK
Drama, Romance
Brief Encounter poster