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Thread: Brief Encounter

  1. #121
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    Brief Encounter is one of my ultimate favourites too. So romantic and so ... British!

  2. #122
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    I most certainly do wadey.

    Nice to see it's all been renovated with the buildings in use and not become a desolate 'bus-shelter' railway station.

  3. #123
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Mark O our local "Holden Wood Antiques" shop provided some of the fittings for the station cafe-buffet

    Holden Wood Antiques, Haslingden Grane, Rossendale | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Love how everyone in the film smokes and he's a doctor specialising in lung diseases, brilliant

  4. #124
    Member Country: England
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    I think Laura does make a few huge decisions for herself... she gets into the train to go home alone... then at the last minute, simply cannot do that, and dashes out of the train just as it is leaving.

    She also decides to lie to Fred at least twice, and to lie to friends she meets in the afternoon Tea venue.

    I dont think she is the wimp some folks think she was... i think she was bored with her life, same old routine, same old same old, and suddenly this man who removes the soot from her eye - reminds her of her earlier excitement and sh instinctively realises she wants some fun - some laughter - some excitement and she allows Alex to take her down that road.

    She would not have had sex with Alec - she was way too repressed for that.. and for the times... but i think she regrets that they didn't.

    A wonderful film of its time, yet, still today portraying moral and ethical dilemmas which still face us all today and probably always will.

  5. #125
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    Good point well made, there won't be many married couples who haven't faced this dilemma in their lives

  6. #126
    Senior Member Country: England Elaine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theuofc View Post
    No doubt about it, David Lean and cast did a superb job in Brief Encounter. Consider it. Against conventional morality, the audience is silently cheering on a romance between Laura a married woman and Alec and is sorely disappointed when the two must part. Not just current audiences, but I'll bet British audiences also felt this way when the film was released years ago. Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard are excellent in the roles. But here's the rub which is strictly in my corner and not any flaw in the film or the cast. The characters do not speak to my heart. Is it their restraint that holds me back as well? I have pondered this over the years. Is it cultural? Yet, Torquil and Joan in I Know Where I'm Going speak very much to my heart.



    Best,

    Barbara
    Hear, hear, I agree with you entirely Barbara. The Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard version is very restrained, as were most of the films of that time. Who really lived like that? I love, I know where I am going. They fell in love and we as the onlookers knew it. Back to Brief Encounter. Forgive me for saying it before hand, but I felt like knocking their heads together. She was in a boring unfulfilled marriage, and he in an unhappy one. In those days days didn't people divorce. Sorry....

  7. #127
    Senior Member Country: UK RogerThornhill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elaine View Post
    Hear, hear, I agree with you entirely Barbara. The Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard version is very restrained, as were most of the films of that time. Who really lived like that? I love, I know where I am going. They fell in love and we as the onlookers knew it. Back to Brief Encounter. Forgive me for saying it before hand, but I felt like knocking their heads together. She was in a boring unfulfilled marriage, and he in an unhappy one. In those days days didn't people divorce. Sorry....
    People certainly did divorce but it wasn't the simple quick easy process that it is now. In complete contrast to today's quickie divorces it was involved slow and difficult and there was a lot of stigma attached to it.

  8. #128
    Senior Member Country: England Elaine's Avatar
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    Marriage was, until death us do part, back then. If people did divorce, socially it did usually destroy the woman if she was the guilty party, and sometimes if she wasn't. After censorship came in for films I think that was a death knell for honest interpretation of what went on in real life. This is only my opinion of course. Did we really have that stiff a lip?

  9. #129
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elaine View Post
    Marriage was, until death us do part, back then. If people did divorce, socially it did usually destroy the woman if she was the guilty party, and sometimes if she wasn't. After censorship came in for films I think that was a death knell for honest interpretation of what went on in real life. This is only my opinion of course. Did we really have that stiff a lip?
    A married woman who left her husband for another man in the 1940s would certainly have lost custody of her children. In The Little Friend, in which Nova Pilbeam's mother runs off with an actor, the implication is she'll be lucky to see her child occasionally in the school holidays but there's no question of her getting custody.

  10. #130
    Senior Member Country: England Elaine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainWaggett View Post
    A married woman who left her husband for another man in the 1940s would certainly have lost custody of her children. In]The Little Friend[/B], in which Nova Pilbeam's mother runs off with an actor, the implication is she'll be lucky to see her child occasionally in the school holidays but there's no question of her getting custody.
    There were lots of good things about those days, which we have lost. But I can honestly say the divorce system then was, excuse my language, crap.

  11. #131
    Senior Member Country: England Elaine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerThornhill View Post
    People certainly did divorce but it wasn't the simple quick easy process that it is now. In complete contrast to today's quickie divorces it was involved slow and difficult and there was a lot of stigma attached to it.
    Nice avitar of Ian Carmichael, by the way.

  12. #132
    Senior Member Country: United States MonicaMC's Avatar
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    Hello - I am a newbie here, and I hope you will pardon the length of the upcoming post. It was originally on the IMDb message board re: Brief Encounter ("BE"), but the person to whom I was replying got a bit juvenile and the powers that be trimmed the thread, removing my post in the process. But I put too much time into it for it not to be preserved online somewhere, and given the parts of this thread by Barbara, et. al. concerning the husband, Fred -- I think this might be a good place for it to live. (I know, there are better avenues for me to spend my time, but for some reason this has resonated with me.)

    At any rate, one of the gals on the board has been pretty vocal about her wariness of Alec, her admiration of Fred, and how she believed that Laura was infatuated with Alec, but he wasn't the True Love of Her Life. The fellow(?) on the board said that she was delivering a diatribe, and after I asked him why and he delivered his arugments, I didn't think he understood, so I delivered my opinions:

    ***********

    So, exactly what part of the movie did R. actually like??

    How much of this message board (specific to this film) have you read? I grant that I am not R., but my opinion is that she likes the film because it makes her think and feel about something (or somethings) that are very important to her, such as the nature of love and marriage. I also grant that at times she reads a bit militant about marriage and lashing out against Alec, but that's part of what makes the film a small masterpiece (IMO): you get passionate about the characters and the issues presented.

    And she also makes a fair point, if you (1) think about it, and (2) have the life experience to get you to Laura's age or beyond. As to point (1), good and especially great films are about the stories of the hero(ine): what is his journey, or the arc of his character? What does the protagonist learn? Personally (and this ties in with the second point), I think in BE that not only is Laura the heroine, but Fred is a secondary hero as well. They both learn how much the other partner and their marriage mean to each of them. (I'll get to the "acceptable ending" argument in a moment.) Conversely, I question whether Alec goes through much of a journey, or any at all. How does this affair transform him? He leaves, but we don't know (and given that it is Laura's story, it doesn't matter) for example, that he discovers that true love is caring for one's beloved and her wishes more than his own passions.

    Now, as to the second point: this ties in with the ending. Granted, back in the proverbial day people clamored for happy endings (I think we still do, actually) and the censors wanted to send a family-positive message. But I would argue that this result is real, and good - rare, probably, but the best possible outcome. Quite frankly (and this is likely a minority view), I don't see this film THESE DAYS (that is, where I am in life now) as Laura betraying herself or people choosing duty over their own heart's desire; rather, I see this film as a damn fine tale of the "shoals and narrows" one inevitably steers through in marriage. (That quote, BTW, is from a Robert Anderson play I really like, called Silent Night, Lonely Night, a less optimistic tale re: marriage.)

    I've read in places that Dolly, Fred, and Mary Norton are ciphers -- not characters in and of themselves with points of view, objectives, etc. I agree as to the women, and also argue that Alec is the biggest cipher of them all. Yes, he and Laura fall in love and it's intense, but the point of the whole thing is about what that experience stirs up in Laura, not that Alec is the one with whom she is meant to be and should or shouldn't she be true to herself. She won't be the same, and thank God, she won't have to try to pretend she is (I think), and why? Because her husband has the sense really to love her rather than get caught up in his own web of grief.

    Why do I say this? Life experience: my own. When I compare how Fred responded to, say, how I know my ex would have reacted, it's like night and day. If I were in Laura's shoes, my ex would have badgered me to tell him what was bothering me until I told him the truth, and instead of thinking, "Holy crap, we're in trouble!" -- my ex would have been so enmeshed in his own stuff that he'd have dragged us to seven different therapists to discuss my persistent obsession over a lost love while keeping mum about the love poetry and letters his first wife kept sending him on the sly. (But I digress... )

    I would have given my eye teeth for a man like Fred. I don't think he's the duffer so many people make him out to be, or that he doesn't care -- he just doesn't make heavy weather of things. (Granted, almost to his detriment -- thinking about that scene where Laura blurts out to Fred her first outing with Alec reminds me again of that play I mentioned earlier, when Katherine says -- recounting a temptation she fled from -- "I wonder if husbands realize when their wives suddenly show up at the office and ask to be taken to lunch -- I wonder if they realize it's a cry for help, for protection.") You compare how he loves with how Alec loves? Again, no comparison. Yes, Alec says a lot of pretty "poetic words and tinseled phrases" (that's a favorite phrase of mine from Cyrano de Bergerac), but Fred's deeds speak volumes as a father and finally (after his own journey -- as an actress, I like to daydream what his interior monologue is while Laura's in her reverie) as a husband. (Think of the zillions of marriages where you hear 1 Corinthians 13 read -- that last minute and a half of the film is how it's done!!!) And I think Laura realizes that at some level too, though it doesn't come to the surface for her until the end of the picture. For all that talk about duty and self-respect, I think those are, at the base, convenient excuses for Laura to keep the affair from becoming a true impediment to her marriage. (Isn't it interesting, for example, that when Fred asks at the end, "Is there anything I can do to help?" Laura says, "Yes, Fred, you always help." She could have easily said "No" -- a lot of us would. How differently things would have turned out -- and not for the better.)

    One last(!) note about Fred's secondary arc: I like to think that the reason he understands what's up is because of his own experience. A possibility I discovered from my daydreams was that he fell in love during the war (WWI), perhaps with some nurse, and they both caught the Spanish flu. He survived, but she didn't -- however, he fell ill first and was delirious when she fell ill and passed away. (I like this possibility for two reasons: first, he would know what it was like for a lover to leave without being able to say goodbye properly -- just as Laura has experienced with Alec; second, he could just as easily launch into his own reverie from the combination of "delirium" and "romance" in his crossword while Laura becomes absorbed in her own thoughts.)

    It's an interesting idea to me to consider that perhaps Fred courted and married Laura not because he was wildly in love with her, but because she was a good and decent woman whom he really admired, and he wanted to protect his heart from the pain of again losing someone whom he dearly loved. However, in my daydream Fred discovers that, in spite of his plans, he actually has fallen in love with Laura (this bit reminds me of Claude Rains's monologue towards the end of The Passionate Friends) and realizes that he can't protect himself from love any more than he could protect himself from pain.

    /meanderings
    Last edited by MonicaMC; 17-02-11 at 06:50 AM.

  13. #133
    Senior Member Country: United States MonicaMC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freddy View Post
    Co-incidently Cyril Raymond who played Fred was actually a fighter controller in the Battle of Britain
    Freddy
    Dear Freddy (or anyone),

    Do you have any further biographical information on Cyril Raymond beyond what is found in Wikipedia and IMDb? I knew about the fighter controller bit, and I've now seen Angels One Five, where his character is also a fighter controller.

    I was just so impressed by his performance in BE that I sought out what other performances I could find. I live in the Seattle area, and luckily they have a fabulous shop called Scarecrow Video where you can find some rare or otherwise difficult-to-find films. That's where I found The Spy in Black and even a VHS of the 1937 version of Dreaming Lips!

    I'm in acting school now, and seeing his copious acting credits crystallized what I think I would like to do: originate characters in new plays on Broadway and the West End (small roles are fine), and act in miscellaneous film and TV projects. Then, if God wills it, maybe, just maybe I'll have my own minute and a half of greatness memorialized on film somewhere, and years afterward a young actor will see MY work and be transfixed. It's a way of living forever.

  14. #134
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    I don't believe I have seen Cyril Raymond in anything else but I think his performance in Brief Encounter is superb, as is the film. Showed it to Mr Didi the other day who hadn't seen it before and his opinion was that it was 'ok'. *rolls eyes*

  15. #135
    Senior Member Country: United States MonicaMC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by didi-5 View Post
    Showed (BE) to Mr Didi the other day who hadn't seen it before and his opinion was that it was 'ok'. *rolls eyes*
    Someday I want to see a scene in a Nora Ephron-esque picture (I'm thinking along the lines of "Sleepless in Seattle," her homage to the "women's films" of the past) that goes like this:

    (Heroine and her Rosie O'Donnell counterpart are viewing the ending of BE.)

    Heroine: Best last line of a movie ever. Screw "Casablanca."

  16. #136
    Senior Member Country: UK wellendcanons's Avatar
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    Last edited by wellendcanons; 26-02-11 at 03:10 AM.

  17. #137
    Senior Member Country: UK wellendcanons's Avatar
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    For some reason I can only bring it up as a link from my album.
    wec

  18. #138
    Senior Member Country: United States MonicaMC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wellendcanons View Post
    For some reason I can only bring it up as a link from my album.
    wec
    That's odd - I got the link just fine. Did someone fix it?

  19. #139
    Senior Member Country: United States MonicaMC's Avatar
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    Update: it appears that the IMDb crew reversed their earlier "threadectomy" (or would that be a partial threadectomy? see IMDb :: Boards :: Brief Encounter (1945) :: The ending) that prompted me to post my long http://filmdope.com/forums/yo...ml#post1976615 response over here. Someone new has responded:

    I think you're all wrong! O.k. not entirely wrong, but it seems one person is saying "this movie is in defense of passion!" and another is saying, "this movie is in defense of trusted companionship!" I think this movie is about how you can't have your cake and eat it too. She loves her husband. He's her best friend, she trusts him completely. However, to get to this point, passion was sacrificed for familiarity. Life is pleasant, but boring. She feels passion for Alec, and passion can feel like the best, most thrilling drug in the world. However, it's the element of the unknown that makes something exciting. To have it, familiarity and security was sacrificed for passion. Life is exciting, but scary. It's just two sides of the same coin. I don't think this movie took any side. I think it just took the position that a person gets one or the other, but they can't have both.

    Just so we're clear, I don't agree with the movie on this. Passion and friendship can coexist in one relationship, but in a lasting relationship it's the friendship that will dominate. I think in modern times Fred might want to suggest a marriage counselor ;-)


    (Oh, wait a second -- now I can't see the new post -- from a day ago -- when I'm NOT logged in. I guess maybe those who were logged in during the flame to my post can see it? Regardless...)

    I just about bang my head on my computer when I read anything along the lines of "Laura sacrificed passion for the security of her marriage." THAT IS NOT THE FLIPPING POINT OF THE MOVIE. I concede that if you're under the age of 35, or have never been married (and divorced), or if you have seen this movie only a couple of times -- you may think that and be allowed your opinion. (Well, I guess everyone is entitled to his opinion - that's how politicians get elected, but anyway... )

    But I stand by my argument that the film is not about "what if?" as it is about what the advent of a more passionate existence stirs up in Laura. If one can't see it in BE, surely one can see the theme in A Passage to India, when Miss Quested chances upon the Kama Sutra sculptures in the brush. Those figures are Miss Quested's Rachmaninov, just as Aziz becomes her Alec-esque fantasy.

    I'm not a David Lean aficionado (yet!) but I wonder -- where else does he explore this theme of passionate/sexual awakening in his films (or, does he not)?
    Last edited by MonicaMC; 26-02-11 at 08:58 AM.

  20. #140
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MonicaMC View Post
    Update: it appears that the IMDb crew reversed their earlier "threadectomy" (or would that be a partial threadectomy? see IMDb :: Boards :: Brief Encounter (1945) :: The ending) that prompted me to post my long http://filmdope.com/forums/yo...ml#post1976615 response over here.
    When you aren't logged in to the IMDb they only show 10 messages per page when you look at a thread. Your "opus" in that thread is message #12 and you have to go to the 2nd page of messages to see it.

    Oh, and that wasn't flaming, it was just a mild disagreement and a questioning of your views

    Steve

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