I’ve just begun to dare to think perhaps I’m a bit of an artist
What’s your favourite classic British film? The chances are that at least one of them was directed by David Lean; from legendary love story Brief Encounter to the multi-Oscar winning Bridge on the River Kwai and the epic romance Ryan’s Daughter.
War epic Bridge on the River Kwai resulted in the first of David’s two Best Director wins, with Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, his second. The film scooped seven Oscars in total.
“I’m first and foremost interested in the story, the characters,” David once said.
“His work was about making the film,” Omar Sharif later said, in an interview with the Guardian, relating how the director was never star-struck by actors and simply thought: “This one will do for this part.”
“I was one of the only actors he actually liked, in all his life.”
Despite being one of the most-fêted films of the 20th Century, the director had been unhappy with last minute cuts imposed on Lawrence of Arabia. He devoted himself to painstakingly restoring the film, 25 years later.
David was knighted in 1984. Married six times, he met his last wife, Sandra Cooke, in the food hall at Harrods in 1985. The couple married in December 1990, just four months before he died.