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David Lean Season at the Irish Film Institute

Undeniably one of cinema’s master storytellers and an inspiration to generations of filmmakers, the Irish Film Institute is proud to announce a two-part retrospective of the work of David Lean. The sixteen films showing throughout July and August demonstrate his achievements as a chronicler of the British imagination and as one of the greatest creators of cinematic epic in film history.

In a BFI poll of the 100 best British films of the century, David Lean had 3 in the Top 5, Brief Encounter, Lawrence of Arabia and Great Expectations, and he remains the only English director ever to win two directing Oscars for British films. He was revered by Hollywood peers such as Billy Wilder and Fred Zinnemann, and his work provided the inspiration for the young Stephen Spielberg to pursue a career in films.

What is incontestable is that his films have endured and that he made them without compromise. The critic Raymond Durgnat beautifully described Lean as a “lyricist of life’s lost opportunities” and no one caught better the erratic, erotic emotions lurking beneath the surface of prim, grim British propriety. With a set of beautifully restored 35mm prints, the Irish Film Institute invites you to judge for yourself and revisit some of cinema’s most popular classics.

The season is presented in collaboration with David Lean Foundation, the British Film Institute National Archive, Granada International, Optimum Releasing, Park Circus and Studio Canal.
Tickets from IFI box office: Tel: +353 1 6793477 or book online at

For further information and images, please contact:
Patrick Stewart at the IFI Press Office
Tel: (01) 612 9447

JULY 1 (1.00, 6.00)
This was the first film of Cineguild, an independent production company formed by Lean, Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan, that produced all of Lean’s films up to and including Madeleine.

JULY 2 (1.00, 6.00)
Clinging to a life-raft after their ship has been torpedoed, members of the crew of HMS Torrin reflect on their lives at home and on ship.

JULY 3 (1.15, 6.15)
“I’ve gone mad. That’s what it is, I’ve just gone raving mad,” says the novelist Charles Condomine (Rex Harrison) in another of Lean’s Noël Coward adaptations. He is the first of many such madmen in Lean, but he has more cause than most, being tormented by the ghost of his first wife (a superbly deadpan Kay Hammond), who has returned to disrupt his second marriage.

JULY 5, 6 (1.30)
When Fred Jesson (Cyril Raymond) is stumped for the missing word in his Times crossword, his wife Laura (Celia Johnson) can supply it: “Romance, I think.” “It must be right,” he says, approvingly, “it fits in with delirium.”

JULY 12 (1.30), 13 (2.15)
This superb Charles Dickens adaptation is one of the best-loved of all British films. From the unforgettable opening onwards, as John Mills’ narration ushers in a life-changing encounter between a lonely boy and an escaped convict in a deserted graveyard, the storytelling never falters.

JULY 12 (5.00)
Lean’s second Dickens adaptation is a brilliant film noir evocation of recent history. The Expressionistic depiction of Oliver’s approach to Fagin’s lair recalls Germanic cinematic style in the years between Caligari and Hitler.

JULY 5, 6 (3.00)
Based on a novel by H. G. Wells, this is a return to the emotional terrain of Brief Encounter, as a middle-class housewife (Ann Todd, the third Mrs. Lean) finds herself torn between her dry financier husband and a dashing former sweetheart (Trevor Howard).

JULY 19, 20 (2.15)
“Madeleine Smith, you have heard the indictment: were you guilty or not guilty?”. Based on a famous case in Glasgow in 1857, which was also the inspiration behind one of Wilkie Collins’s finest novels, The Law and the Lady, the titular heroine is an ostensibly respectable young woman accused of poisoning her French lover.
JULY 26 (2.15)

Ralph Richardson gives one of his finest screen performances (it won him the New York Film Critics award) as John Ridgefield, a self-made man whose obsession with breaking the sound barrier endangers life and threatens the stability of his own family, and even his own mind.
JULY 27 (2.30)
In this superbly crafted adaptation of Harold Brighouse’s play, which the British Academy voted the best British film of 1954, Lean uproariously turns the tables on himself, poking fun at themes he has treated seriously elsewhere, notably the cruelty of Victorian society and the yearnings of a thwarted yet determined heroine.
Booking Information
Tickets from IFI box office: Tel: +353 1 6793477 or book online at


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