You are here

David Lean

25 March 1908 to 16 April 1991

Sir David Lean passed away on 16 April 1991. BAFTA News covered the moving memorial ceremony held later that year at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

  • BAFTA News (The Journal of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts)
  • Volume 2, Number 10
  • November 1991

"The setting was magnificent, the list of those taking part star-studded and the tributes heartfelt and fulsome. In short, Sir David Lean would undoubtedly have approved the whole production for his memorial service held at St. Paul’s Cathedral on 3 October 1991.

As Melvyn Bragg said in his beautifully worded address: “David Lean transferred his own acute awareness into the world of dreams.” In a more intimate and personal tribute, John Box spoke of Sir David as a craftsman and movingly described one of their surveys together in the desert for Lawrence of Arabia. Prefaced by Robert Bolt were readings from Great Expectations, In Which We Serve, John Donne’s sonnet Death Be Not Proud, Doctor Zhivago, Seven Pillars of Wisdom and Nostromo, given by Sir John Mills, Sarah Miles, Peter O’Toole, Tom Courtenay, Omar Sharif and George Correface respectively.

Music from many of Sir David’s films, played by the Royal Philhamonic Orchestra conducted by Maurice Jarre, echoed round the Great Dome of St. Paul’s and when the service was over, the band of the Blues and Royals was on the Cathedral steps playing the famous and nostalgic Colonel Bogey March evoking one of the most emotional moments of Bridge on the River Kwai.

HRH The Princess Royal as President of BAFTA was represented by Richard Price, [then] Chairman, and in the congregation were many Council and other BAFTA members."

For more on David Lean's contribution to BAFTA's history, visit the David Lean showcase >