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Santas to examine the films of David Lean

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Constantine Santas

Constantine Santas will discuss his latest book “The Epics of David Lean” in the Gamache-Koger Theater in the Ringhaver Student Center at Flagler College.

Sept. 26, 2012

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have something in common. They’ve both cited one man as a major source of inspiration in their work: the great David Lean. Lean has long been recognized as one of the greatest film directors of all time, known for such classic epic films as “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Doctor Zhivago” and “A Passage to India.”

On Wednesday, October 17 at 7 p.m. Dr. Constantine Santas will discuss his latest book “The Epics of David Lean” in the Gamache-Koger Theater in the Ringhaver Student Center at Flagler College. Santas is professor emeritus and former chair in the Flagler Department of English. He is also the author of “Responding to Film” and “The Epic in Film: from Myth to Blockbuster.”

Santas has long been fascinated with the epic film and with Lean’s work in particular. And with good reason: widely regarded as one of cinema’s most accomplished directors, David Lean twice received the Academy Award for best director, and two of his films, “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Lawrence of Arabia” won the Oscar for best picture. Both are featured on the American Film Institute’s Top 100.

But despite the awards and accolades for these motion pictures, many critics often look more favorably upon the smaller films that Lean produced earlier in his career, and in recent years his reputation as a director has diminished. In his newest book, Santas seeks to restore these now undervalued epics to the elevated esteem they once held. He argues that the epics show a progression and refinement of Lean’s work and that they are thematically broader and feature more complex characterization than his earlier films. In his talk at Flagler, he will provide background material on the production of each epic; examine insights into structure, characters, techniques, and themes; and look into the relationship between the films and their literary sources.

“The idea for this book started back in the 1990s, when I read a paper on ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai,’ at a Flagler Colloquium, sponsored by the English Department, under Professor Carl Horner,” remembers Santas. “I was drawn by the artistic values of the epics of David Lean, several of which I taught in my film classes regularly. One particular aspect of the epics that gave me food for thought was that all of them were derived from literary sources. That fact motivated me to connect literature, T.E. Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” for instance, which became the basis for “Lawrence of Arabia,” with film studies.”

Santas credits an ongoing fascination with the epics, as well as the assistance of the Flagler community, with helping him to write the book. “I believed that there were universal values in all the epics, and I was more convinced that this was so as I progressed in my research, considerably aided by the librarians at Flagler College,” he says. “I express my gratitude to them, to my colleagues, and especially to my students at Flagler over the years for keeping the flame alive.”

The reading and discussion will be held in the Gamache-Koger Theater at the Ringhaver Student Center at 50 Sevilla Street. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are a person with a disability and need reasonable accommodations, please contact Lynn Francisco at 904-819-6460. Sign Language Interpreters are available upon request with a minimum of three days’ notice. Call (904) 819-6339 or visit for more information.