David Lean: The Master

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(at work in the great storm scene of Ryan’s Daughter; Photofest)

Happiest alone
in front of
an editing machine
admiring the panoramas
he shot on location.
Blowing up holes
of great rock faces
in A Passage to India,
sweeping the desert
in Lawrence,
waiting for the morning frost
to be just right–embroidering
Zhivago’s window.
Painstaking, patient
and more concerned
about ‘the shot’
and its composition
than his actors’ performances.
Explaining the script
ahead of time
to the cast
leaving nothing left to chance.
‘This is my vision
my script.
Hope you like it.’
Supremely confident.
‘Tea anyone?’
Days waiting to shoot
waiting for clouds
to clear or for
a certain mountain look.
‘Could you change
that red blanket
200 yards behind the actors
down the road
for a yellow one?’
Asking for the train front to be
painted red while
thousands of extras
stood idly around.
Knew what he wanted.
‘Here is how you stand.’
‘Here is how you touch her.’
to Robert Mitchum
no less.
Every detail.
Few today know
or appreciate the beauty
of his bountiful films.
So much beyond
the story or literature
that inspired him.
“I am fascinated by these nuts,”
he once said.
David Lean.
A true gentleman
and deep visual artist.
All ways.
Life and movies
mattered to him
not the money.
Old school.
White gloves
at an editing machine.
Tenderly sensuous.
Would have died
rather than use CGI.
No falseness
in his sensibility.


CGI: computer generated imaging; used obsessively today to nullify the need for location shoots and great numbers of extras; totally unLeanish

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