A Film by David Lean
1945 / UK / 86 minutes / B&W
5.45pm; Perks Mini Theater
Brief Encounter is about average and perfectly genuine people in an average and perfectly genuine situation. Here love, more than the grandness of life in total, is the cause for dramatic tension and identification. Laura Jesson is happily married. A chance meeting with Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) sends her emotions reeling. She loves her husband; they don’t have any domestic issues. But this brief encounter becomes something she never could have imagined. Indeed, she probably never dared.
The story, set in pre-war England, 1938, is told quite sensitively through a series of flashbacks, with the same scene opening and closing the film (with a short addition included to finish it off.) The action centers almost exclusively on Laura's point of view, her eyes and facial expressions communicating a full range of emotions as she experiences her midlife whirlwind.
Brief Encounter is also a beautiful film to watch. Shot by Robert Krasker (who would photograph Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949) and Luchino Visconti’s Senso (1954) – two other gorgeous looking movies), the images only add to the dream state of the characters. For Laura, this is exactly what’s it’s like – a dream, a fantasy. But can it be real, or is this love only to be a fleeting one? Will she eventually just wake up? Either way, it’s extraordinarily romantic.
Touching, emotional, accessible and realistic performances are delivered by the two main, middle-aged characters. Brief Encounte is one of the great romantic films of all time, with a very downbeat ending. The screenplay was adapted and based on playwright Noel Coward's 1935 short one-act (half-hour) stage play Still Life and the film maintains chaste minimalism. ( Source: Internet)
David Lean is one of the most popular and well-known of British film-makers. He was the chief editor of Gaumont British News until in 1939 when he began to edit feature films. In 1942 Noel Coward gave Lean the chance to co-direct with him the war film In Which We Serve (1942). Lean first directed adaptations of three plays by Coward: the chronicle This Happy Breed (1944), the humorous ghost story Blithe Spirit (1945) and, most notably, the sentimental drama Brief Encounter (1945). "Brief Encounter" was presented at the very first Cannes film festival (1946), where it won almost unanimous praises as well as a Grand Prize.
After Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948) he returned to prominence again with the prisoner-of-war drama The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). It won seven Academy Awards. Lawrence of Arabia (1962 is often considered Lean’s finest film. It was followed by Dr. Zhivago (1965), a love story set against a backdrop of the Russian Revolution and the romantic Ryan’s Daughter (1970), both exhibiting the grand scale, lush cinematography, and breathtaking landscapes that had become the hallmark of Lean’s work. His last film, A Passage to India (1984), based on the E.M. Forster novel, was regarded as his best work since Lawrence of Arabia. Lean was knighted by Queen Elizabeth that year, and in 1990 he was awarded the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. At the time of his death, he was preparing a screen version of Joseph Conrad’s novel Nostromo.