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Thread: Brief Encounter

  1. #61
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain vaggmk1938's Avatar
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    It might also be worth mentioning that in Coward's original notes the Celia Johnson character was a man. Bats.
    Well, you see Casio, you do learn something every day on this forum.



    I just did a Google on "brief encounter" +coward +"homosexual" and found an interesting Manchester Guardian article about the film and repression. Also do a general Google and the Wikipedia article is informative.

  2. #62
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    so fred and alec were originally meant to be gays?

  3. #63
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    Whoever changed it deserves a lot of credit (Coward?) They made a great movie out of what would've been garbage. Guess everyone has heard stories about Coward. but his 'Still Life' ( 'Brief Encounter') was a stroke of genius.

  4. #64
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    saw the posts on 'Brief Encounter' FOR THE FIRST TIME, some three years after they were first posted; everything I thought about the film had been said, better than I could have said. There are, certainly, a flock of people with excellent taste on this forum.

  5. #65
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Whoever changed it deserves a lot of credit (Coward?) They made a great movie out of what would've been garbage. Guess everyone has heard stories about Coward. but his 'Still Life' ( 'Brief Encounter') was a stroke of genius.
    It would have been illegal not to have changed it. The direct representation of homosexuality was illegal until the Fifties or Sixties wasn't it?



    I find it difficult to believe a professional like Coward would have 'written' something that could never have been performed. I can quite see that his own repressive feelings may have informed the nature of the piece however. Unrequited love engenders much the same feelings regardless of the plumbing I expect.

  6. #66
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    I find it difficult to believe a professional like Coward would have 'written' something that could never have been performed.
    Apparently, Coward wrote the original story years before the film with the idea of rattling a few cages, but his friends talked him out of it. So he adapted it into an 'acceptable' stage play.



    I may be wrong, and I am sure our resident Anthony Asquith expert will tell me if I am, but I think The Young Lovers was also conceived in a similar fashion but was changed due to the then current laws on homosexuality.



    Bats.

  7. #67
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    Whoever changed it deserves a lot of credit (Coward?) They made a great movie out of what would've been garbage. Guess everyone has heard stories about Coward. but his 'Still Life' ( 'Brief Encounter') was a stroke of genius.
    Are you saying that, because a tender and beautifully written love story may have been about two men it would have been garbage, but because it was changed to a man and a woman it suddenly becomes a masterpiece?



    Also, are you saying that Coward was able to create a 'stroke of genius' despite his homosexuality?



    Coward was able to create that masterpiece primarily because he had a real insight into the problems that 'illicit' relationships face, and it was these insights which helped create such a wonderful film.



    Bats.

  8. #68
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    so fred and alec were originally meant to be gays?
    Yes .... the characters of Laura and Fred have been swapped over from how they were in Coward's original story to how they are in Brief Encounter.



    Bats.

  9. #69
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Are you saying that, because a tender and beautifully written love story may have been about two men it would have been garbage, but because it was changed to a man and a woman it suddenly becomes a masterpiece?
    I do think the tragedy of the actual film is of a somewhat different ilk to what the 'original' would have been. The fact is that there was little to stop Laura and Alec from consummating their relationship other than their own ethics. A homosexual affair would have had an entirely different dynamic perhaps redolent more of external repression rather than the repression which emanates from within a person..... although I can see there would have been some cross-over.




  10. #70
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    I do think the tragedy of the actual film is of a somewhat different ilk to what the 'original' would have been. The fact is that there was little to stop Laura and Alec from consummating their relationship other than their own ethics. A homosexual affair would have had an entirely different dynamic perhaps redolent more of external repression rather than the repression which emanates from within a person..... although I can see there would have been some cross-over.



    I agree. The dynamic would have been entirely different, expecially with the shadow of the law hanging over them. However, for me the great joy of the film (apart from the wonderful depiction of a world long gone) are the wonderfully real scenes of intimacy between Alec and Laura, the dialogue that passes between could certainly have crossed over to a different relationship. It is a film which provokes an emotional response whichever character you empathise with. As a happily married man I can empathise with Freddie, but having experienced 'lost' love as a younger man I can also see how heartbreaking the situation is for Alec and Laura. Whatever your point of view, this is a wonderful film.



    Bats.

  11. #71
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Was it written with the intention that the characters were gay? I don't think so. But if anyone knows any different then please enlighten us.



    In his 1993 BFI book on the film, Richard Dyer notes that due to the rise of homosexual law reform, gay men also viewed the plight of the characters as comparable to their own social constraint in the formation and maintenance of relationships. In Straight Acting: Popular Gay Drama from Wilde to Rattigan, Sean O'Connor considers the film to be an 'allegorical representation of forbidden love' informed by Noel Coward's experiences as a closeted homosexual (p. 157).



    But neither of them are suggesting that the characters as written by Coward were meant to be gay



    Steve

  12. #72
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    One of the films which Alec amd Laura go to see is called "Flames of Passion"- will that do for the passion bit ? More seriously when Dolly says "one has one's roots. We are British after all " she speaks for her generation in the last summer before the war. Masterful as it is, I think it is a period piece. The repression is of the age not the characters and that is why, IMHO, "Falling in Love" although exquisitely acted by de Niro and Streep ultimately does not work.

  13. #73
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    Was it written with the intention that the characters were gay? I don't think so. But if anyone knows any different then please enlighten us.



    In his 1993 BFI book on the film, Richard Dyer notes that due to the rise of homosexual law reform, gay men also viewed the plight of the characters as comparable to their own social constraint in the formation and maintenance of relationships. In Straight Acting: Popular Gay Drama from Wilde to Rattigan, Sean O'Connor considers the film to be an 'allegorical representation of forbidden love' informed by Noel Coward's experiences as a closeted homosexual (p. 157).



    But neither of them are suggesting that the characters as written by Coward were meant to be gay



    Steve
    French critics assumed the Howard character was gay because of his inability to have a full sexual relationship with a woman and he was living with Valentine Dyall.



    D

  14. #74
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    Was it written with the intention that the characters were gay? I don't think so. But if anyone knows any different then please enlighten us.



    In his 1993 BFI book on the film, Richard Dyer notes that due to the rise of homosexual law reform, gay men also viewed the plight of the characters as comparable to their own social constraint in the formation and maintenance of relationships. In Straight Acting: Popular Gay Drama from Wilde to Rattigan, Sean O'Connor considers the film to be an 'allegorical representation of forbidden love' informed by Noel Coward's experiences as a closeted homosexual (p. 157).



    But neither of them are suggesting that the characters as written by Coward were meant to be gay



    Steve
    I read about Coward's original ideas for the story in a book about gay and lesbian cinema (I can't remember the book's title though) many years ago. The author had done a great deal of research into this and had, according to the book, spoken with some of Coward's friends and collaborators who were still alive at the time. The book also featured interesting sketches of Anton Walbrook and other gay actors and a piece on Asquith's The Young Lovers.



    Bats.

  15. #75
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    Hi Bats,

    Are you saying that, because a tender and beautifully written love story may have been about two men it would have been garbage, but because it was changed to a man and a woman it suddenly becomes a masterpiece?

    No, it didn't suddenly become, it took a lot of great work by Lean, Johnson and Coward, Ok, the word 'garbage' was extreme but the idea of that great movie being about homosexuals makes me shudder. Sorry, if I offended anyone; that's my opinion. As the guy said, 'Difference of opinion is what makes horse racing'



    Also, are you saying that Coward was able to create a 'stroke of genius' despite his homosexuality?

    It does sound that way but that wasn't my intention, The idea of a homosexual writing about such had come up and I thought, I was saying something good about the man who, certainly, deserves credit for his work.



    Coward was able to create that masterpiece primarily because he had a real insight into the problems that 'illicit' relationships face, and it was these insights which helped create such a wonderful film.

    This part lost me; ok, I'm dense but I don't understand it.

    I think, I've said enough so I'll quit before I get too far behind.

    regards mel



    Bats.

  16. #76
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I read about Coward's original ideas for the story in a book about gay and lesbian cinema (I can't remember the book's title though) many years ago. The author had done a great deal of research into this and had, according to the book, spoken with some of Coward's friends and collaborators who were still alive at the time. The book also featured interesting sketches of Anton Walbrook and other gay actors and a piece on Asquith's The Young Lovers.



    Bats.
    There's quite an industry in "Queering" films (their term) where they "reclaim" films that don't obviously have any links to homosexuality. A lot of the "research" done by these authors is quite frankly of rather dubious quality.



    If you do remember where you read it I'd be interested to know the details. As I said, there are a lot of other references that contradict this



    Steve

  17. #77
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    French critics assumed the Howard character was gay because of his inability to have a full sexual relationship with a woman and he was living with Valentine Dyall.

    D
    It was also assumed in France that he must have truly adored Celia Johnson, as no Frenchman would have been seen dead talking to a woman with that awful hat otherwise....

  18. #78
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    There's quite an industry in "Queering" films (their term) where they "reclaim" films that don't obviously have any links to homosexuality. A lot of the "research" done by these authors is quite frankly of rather dubious quality.

    If you do remember where you read it I'd be interested to know the details. As I said, there are a lot of other references that contradict this

    Steve
    That's very true Steve, and perhaps I have relied too much on that book. I think I may have passed it on to a friend of mine. I'll check and find out if she's still got it.



    Bats.

  19. #79
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    Are you saying that, because a tender and beautifully written love story may have been about two men it would have been garbage, but because it was changed to a man and a woman it suddenly becomes a masterpiece?

    No, it didn't suddenly become, it took a lot of great work by Lean, Johnson and Coward, Ok, the word 'garbage' was extreme but the idea of that great movie being about homosexuals makes me shudder. Sorry, if I offended anyone; that's my opinion. As the guy said, 'Difference of opinion is what makes horse racing'



    Also, are you saying that Coward was able to create a 'stroke of genius' despite his homosexuality?

    It does sound that way but that wasn't my intention, The idea of a homosexual writing about such had come up and I thought, I was saying something good about the man who, certainly, deserves credit for his work.



    Coward was able to create that masterpiece primarily because he had a real insight into the problems that 'illicit' relationships face, and it was these insights which helped create such a wonderful film.

    This part lost me; ok, I'm dense but I don't understand it.

    I think, I've said enough so I'll quit before I get too far behind.

    regards mel



    Bats.
    Hi Mel



    I wasn't offended by what you said, I just wanted to be sure I properly understood what you were trying to say. This has been an interesting thread and I have learned some things about the film I didn't know before and had some of my own perceptions challenged.



    Bats.

  20. #80
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    There's quite an industry in "Queering" films (their term) where they "reclaim" films that don't obviously have any links to homosexuality. A lot of the "research" done by these authors is quite frankly of rather dubious quality.

    If you do remember where you read it I'd be interested to know the details. As I said, there are a lot of other references that contradict this

    Steve
    I just remembered a tv prog about 'queering' films that was on a few years ago ... the highlight for me was the 'Ben Hur' section, in particular how the director allegedly told Stephen Boyd to play Messala as if he was madly in love with Ben Hur. The next time I watched the film I couldn't but interpret Messala's motivations in that way .... the power of suggestion in action!



    Bats.

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