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Thread: Brief Encounter

  1. #1
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    Hi. I'm writing an essay on the film Brief Encounter, and was wondering if anyone could give me any information on society (ie the kind of morals, political ideas etc) going about at the time the film was made (1945). Any help appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    There's an essay on the DVD that can be read here. May be more on the actual disc.

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    Richard Dyer's book on the film is available from the BFI. There's a sample of the text at:



    http://www.bfi.org.uk/bookvid/books/catalo...t.php?bookid=99

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    Musette, your query re the social mores prevailing when the "Brief Encounter" was made - 1945 - may not be applicable is you're concerned with the mores of the society in which the characters of the film are playing. The time of the action is probably somewhere in the mid-Thirties. It's never mentioned, but what makes it clear is the appearance of the two soldiers in the station bar. Both are in pre-war uniforms. Though these were still in use at the time of Dunkirk, the lack of any black-out in the film precludes the film being set in the early war years. Had the characters been living post-war, their sexual inhibitions would hardly have been as pronounced as they were.



    Ted

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    Is brief encounter dece?

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    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Must-have movies: Brief Encounter



    The classics that every film-lover will want to own. This week, Sukhdev Sandhu reviews David Lean's debut





    Brief Encounter was the last great film to be written by Noël Coward, and the first to be directed by David Lean. The story of an unconsummated love affair between suburban housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) and intense doctor Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard), it has an emotional power that remains undimmed after nearly six decades. It is a weepie, a Home Counties Douglas Sirk melodrama, though shot in sooty black and white rather than Technicolor. It moves us to tears, enjoyable ones; they run in inverse proportion to the austerity of the rationed world it depicts.



    Brief Encounter, adapted by Coward from his one-act play Still Life, also induces an acute nostalgia for a bygone country: the station tea room, twin-set accents, mornings spent at Boots Lending Library, matinées at the London Palladium. No wonder it is celebrated for its Englishness. Yet, released just three years after Coward's rousingly patriotic In Which We Serve (1942), the film is actually a dark, dissatisfied essay on the limitations of the English sensibility. Jesson, drowning like a Plath heroine, dreams of escaping abroad: to Venice, to distant beaches where she'll peer at the midnight moon, to Africa - with Alec. England, by contrast, is a chipped mug of lukewarm tea. Her husband, never happier than when doing the crossword, thinks of romance as a word that comes between "delirium" and "Baluchistan".



    Johnson and Howard gave the performances of their lives. They make every syllable and every gesture count. Has any screen moment ever been so freighted with unspoken passion as that when Alec lays his hand on Laura's shoulder just before he leaves her for the last time? Throughout, Rachmaninov's surging Second Piano Concerto captures the pleasure and pain that have been aroused in the couple. No, they don't make films like this any more.

  7. #7
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    "David Lean's debut"?



    What about In Which We Serve (1942), This Happy Breed (1944) & Blithe Spirit (1945) ?



    In Which We Serve was credited as co-directed by Lean & Noel Coward but that's just because Coward had the better known name (at the time). He needed Lean for his knowledge about how to make a film.



    Steve

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    I managed to buy this yesterday, in a shop selling second-hand videos in Gosport.My son told me to look there - he must be psychic! I watched it this morning for the first time, and can agree with all that is said above. Oh what a let-down when I stop the video and TV 2004 comes up on the screen. Midlife crisis or cynicism, they certainly don't make them like this any more.

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    Many months ago the Daily Mail gave away a free(yes,free!)DVD with "Brief Encounter" and "The Ipcress File" on it.There where no extras or anything(after all it was free)but they are both good copies with decent sound so,I compiled a letter to the Mail saying,that I hoped they would start giving away classic British films on a regular basis! thumbs_u

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    Brief Encounter has many fine qualities, but what really stands out for me is Celia Johnson's dignified central performance. Despite playing a woman torn between family responsibility and her love for another man, she never once overplays the emotion, and hits just the right note. This restraint makes her character's predicament all the more touching and poignant.



    Also, I never tire of listening to her wonderful voice. Every word is spoken with such clarity and feeling.



    I think the film also demonstrates David Lean's versatility as a director. So many different genres handled with such assurance.



    Right, I better sign off before I get completely carried away!

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    Speaking personally I also love the sharp B&W photography - especially that atmospheric opening shot of the trains rumbling through the station.



    SMUDGE

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    Speaking personally I also love the sharp B&W photography - especially that atmospheric opening shot of the trains rumbling through the station.



    SMUDGE


    I saw it a few years ago and was moved by it!



    I was amazed it was written by Noel coward!

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I was amazed it was written by Noel coward!
    I'm curious as to why? I though it fitted his style quite well. Sparce dialogue, repressed emotions.

    He wrote it as a short sketch (originally called Still Life) in his "Tonight at 8:30" revue where he used to permutate 3 sketches/playlets from a set of 10 for every performance. The story was expanded a bit for the film.



    The other one from "Tonight at 8:30" that gets performed occasionally is The Red Peppers where two performers in a variety show generally blame everyone else for their terrible act.



    Steve

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    I grew up near Carnforth railway station, and even today is not difficult to stand on the station and recall in your mind's eye how it looked back then.



    Round the Horne's Celia Molestrangler and ageing juvenile Binky Huckerback are a wonderful tribute

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I grew up near Carnforth railway station, and even today is not difficult to stand on the station and recall in your mind's eye how it looked back then.



    Round the Horne's Celia Molestrangler and ageing juvenile Binky Huckerback are a wonderful tribute
    "Dwarling"

    "Yes dwarling?"

    "Nothing dwarling. Just 'Dwarling' dwarling"



    Great stuff



    Steve

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    "Dwarling"

    "Yes dwarling?"

    "Nothing dwarling. Just 'Dwarling' dwarling"



    Great stuff



    Steve
    But it was quite wrong to use such endearing terms as the lady was already "merrid".

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    I'm curious as to why? I though it fitted his style quite well. Sparce dialogue, repressed emotions.

    He wrote it as a short sketch (originally called Still Life) in his "Tonight at 8:30" revue where he used to permutate 3 sketches/playlets from a set of 10 for every performance. The story was expanded a bit for the film.



    The other one from "Tonight at 8:30" that gets performed occasionally is The Red Peppers where two performers in a variety show generally blame everyone else for their terrible act.



    Steve
    Did Noel coward write Blithe spirit?

  18. #18
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Did Noel coward write Blithe spirit?
    Yes. And quite a few other plays and films like Blithe Spirit, Private Lives, Bitter Sweet, In Which we Serve, This Happy Breed, Brief Encounter, The Vortex, Design for Living, Hay Fever etc. etc.



    Steve

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    Must-have movies: Brief Encounter



    ....the film is actually a dark, dissatisfied essay on the limitations of the English sensibility. Jesson, drowning like a Plath heroine, dreams of escaping abroad: to Venice, to distant beaches where she'll peer at the midnight moon, to Africa - with Alec. England, by contrast, is a chipped mug of lukewarm tea. Her husband, never happier than when doing the crossword, thinks of romance as a word that comes between "delirium" and "Baluchistan".....
    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

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    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
    That's a very perceptive post, Barbara - now I need to watch the film again with that in mind. As with any film, of course, it has to be judged in line with the mores and attitudes of its time



    rgds

    Rob

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