According to Richard Schickel, Lean was so wounded by Pauline Kael's and other critics' vicious attacks on Ryan's Daughter (1970/I) that he didn't direct another picture for 14 years, until A Passage to India (1984).
According to Sarah Miles, Lean enjoyed pushing his actors to their personal limits and then breaking them, just for his own amusement.
Before his death in 1991, Lean's only child Peter, and Peter's daughter, tried to reconcile with him on a visit to his home in France, but the attempt ended in anger, and they never spoke again. David Lean had left his first wife when Peter was young, just as Lean's own accountant father had left when David was 16.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890- 1945". Pages 633-639. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
Both Lean's first wife, Isabel Lean (b. 1908) and his third, actress Ann Todd, were his first cousins.
David Lean received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1990, being one of only three non-Americans to receive the award.
Directed 11 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Celia Johnson, Katharine Hepburn, Alec Guinness, Sessue Hayakawa, Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Tom Courtenay, John Mills, Sarah Miles, Peggy Ashcroft and Judy Davis. Guiness, Mills and Ashcroft won for their performances in one of Lean's movies.
Expressed an interest, in 1955, in making a film version of the BBC Light Programme's "Journey into Space" SF radio serial.
Frequently worked with Alec Guinness. When he recommended that Steven Spielberg direct Empire of the Sun (1987), Spielberg ended up hiring Eve Mavrakis as a translator. Fittingly, Mavrakis would go on to marry Ewan McGregor, who succeeded Guinness in the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
He was honoured with the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1990.
He was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture.
He was married 6 times and at all times briefly, apparently having been unable to maintain a marriage due to his wandering eye. He also declined to discuss his personal life.
He was signed to direct several major stars including Marlon Brando, Dennis Quaid and Paul Scofield in a film version of Joseph Conrad's "Nostromo" when he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and died three months later. The film was never made.
His third wife was previously married to his first cousin, Nigel Tangye .
In his home town of Croydon, South London, there is a cinema named after him in the Croydon Clocktower Arts Centre.
Once screened Lawrence of Arabia (1962) with Steven Spielberg. Lean gave Spielberg a "live director's commentary" (as Spielberg put it). Spielberg said it was one of the best moments of his life, learning from a true master. Consequently, Spielberg stated that it helped him make better pictures and that commentary directly influenced every movie he has made since.
Originally wanted to direct Empire of the Sun (1987), but passed it on to Steven Spielberg because of advancing years.
Towards the end of his life, he said he'd like to have another go at filming Boris Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago." The prerequisite for remaking the film would be the casting of Julie Christie once again as Lara, but since she would be too old for the part, he wouldn't be able to do it.
Uncle of agriculturalist John Tangye Lean.