Friday, February 02, 2007

Brief Encounter

I enjoy many of the films directed by David Lean, but near, if not at, the top of my list is the moving love story, Brief Encounter. This film from 1945 is a brilliantly-crafted, classic British masterpiece and one of the greatest romantic movies of all time. Lean's film is a simple but realistically-honest, unsentimental, self-told social melodrama of the quiet desperation involved in an illicit, extra-marital love affair between two married, middle-class individuals over seven weekly meetings, mostly against the backdrop of a railway station. The romantic couple includes a wife/mother and narrator (stage actress Celia Johnson) looking for escape from her humdrum life and sterile marriage, and a handsome doctor (Trevor Howard in his third film). Their brief affair builds to a suspenseful denouement that is one of the more memorable endings in film history. The film abounds in unglamorous locations, rain-slicked streets, dimly-lit interiors and dark train passageways in a tale of doomed, unfulfilled and frustrated love. The screenplay was adapted and based on playwright Noel Coward's 1935 short one-act (half-hour) stage play Still Life. David Lean would go on to direct other movies that I admire, including Lawrence of Arabia, Great Expectations, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Doctor Zhivago.

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