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Brief Encounter (1945)


speedracer5
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***If you haven't seen this film and don't want to know how it ends, do not read this thread***

 

 

I watched Brief Encounter last night.  I had heard about how this film was one of the best romantic films ever made and also saw that it was released by Criterion.  TCM aired the Criterion print last night.

 

This was a great movie. The ending was much different than typical romantic films.  Unlike most romantic films where you can see the happy ending from a mile away, this film had an ending that I felt was much more realistic.  I also found that the way the romance unfolded was also very natural and didn't seem inappropriate even though both characters were married.  In many films of the era, adultery and cheating on the spouses would either not be depicted or the characters involved would meet a terrible fate.  The characters in this film didn't meet a happy fate, but it wasn't any sort of karma for bad behavior.  It was a bittersweet and realistic ending.  I also thought that it made for a better story that neither the lead actor or actress was out-of-this-world attractive.  It wasn't like it was Rita Hayworth falling in love with Errol Flynn.  The fact that both the leading actors were average looking made the story more realistic and identifiable.  

 

I also felt that this movie was very timely, especially when considering the discussion going on in the 1950s thread.  Post-WWII, after having experienced life as a working employee, many women found the domestic housewife life to be very stifling and boring.  They missed the stimulation of the workplace and tired of having to deal with children's issues and tending to their very capable husband's every need.  Many housewives reported depression and/or use of tranquilizers just to get through their mundane lives.  

 

In Brief Encounter, the lead character, Laura, was bored by her life.  Her husband essentially ignored her to work on the evening's crossword puzzle and living to only tend to the children and go grocery shopping was very boring to her.  When has the chance encounter with Alec on Thursday, which from the sounds of it, was the only day of the week when she went into town and had time to herself, her boring, routine life suddenly gets the adrenaline rush that it needed.  Life with Alec was exciting.  He makes her feel feelings that she hadn't experienced in a long time.  Conversation was exciting.  Spending time with him was exciting.  However, like in real life (usually), she feels guilty for two-timing her husband.  In this film, we don't see much of her husband and we do not see Alec's wife at all.  I believe that this allows the audience to see the situation from only Laura and Alec's side--so we feel for them and want their romance to succeed.  

 

I think the turning point in the relationship was when Alec invites Laura into his friend's home (where he's house-sitting).  It is obvious that he wants to use the apartment as a private place to take their relationship to the next level and make it physical.  I believe that Laura realizes this when she initially refuses, but after boarding her train, she realizes that this is something she wants and returns to Alec.  When his friend returns unexpectedly, she is so embarrassed by what she was about to do that it hurts hers and Alec's relationship.

 

I think the ending where both parties return to their respective spouses is very bittersweet.  On one hand, neither one is breaking up their family and is not committing any sort of moral crime (so to speak).  On the other hand, both Alec and Laura may live their entire lives unhappy and wondering what things would have been like had they left their spouses and run off together.  One would hope that maybe they would both check back into family life and try to make the best of their current situation, but I couldn't help but feel that both had settled and now had lost their chance at true love.

 

Any thoughts about the relationship? The film-making techniques? Anything? 

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It's interesting to compare Brief Encounter and the quiet, intimate "smallness" of the entire film to director David Lean's later output, such as Lawrence of Arabia or Doctor Zhivago. I like both styles of filmmaking, but it's worth noting what is accomplished in BE's short 86 minutes contrasted with DZ's 197 minutes.

 

I like Brief Encounter very much, and rank it as my favorite film of 1945, and one of my favorite romances ever.

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I haven't seen Lawrence of Arabia or Doctor Zhivago, but it is interesting how Lean seems to have switched to making these epics.  He also made the film Summertime (which I have yet to see, but want to see) with Katharine Hepburn, which I imagine is along the same lines as Brief Encounter.  From reviewing his credits, it appears that he also directed The Bridge on the River Kwai.  He was definitely versatile.  That's for sure.  

 

Maybe he decided that he preferred directing large-scale epics over the quaint romantic films.  I always enjoy when a small film can hit all the right marks and be a tight, cohesive, enjoyable storyline that also makes you think or feel.  Long films can achieve this as well, but they require so much time and dedication, that they are sometimes harder to watch.  

 

I also liked how he had Laura's confession (I gathered it was an internal confession to her husband, I don't think she was actually saying this out-loud to him) serve as the narration for the film.  Her narration also moved the plot along at a brisk pace and helped evoke some emotion into the scenes.  I also liked his cinematography.  One of my favorite scenes was when Laura was on the train and we only see her profile in the foreground, but can see her full face in the reflection of the window.  It was a very interesting way to frame the scene and it was a very effective way to showcase Laura's internal reflection on the events in the past week or so.  

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***If you haven't seen this film and don't want to know how it ends, do not read this thread***

 

 

I watched Brief Encounter last night.  I had heard about how this film was one of the best romantic films ever made and also saw that it was released by Criterion.  TCM aired the Criterion print last night.

 

This was a great movie. The ending was much different than typical romantic films.  Unlike most romantic films where you can see the happy ending from a mile away, this film had an ending that I felt was much more realistic.  I also found that the way the romance unfolded was also very natural and didn't seem inappropriate even though both characters were married.  In many films of the era, adultery and cheating on the spouses would either not be depicted or the characters involved would meet a terrible fate.  The characters in this film didn't meet a happy fate, but it wasn't any sort of karma for bad behavior.  It was a bittersweet and realistic ending.  I also thought that it made for a better story that neither the lead actor or actress was out-of-this-world attractive.  It wasn't like it was Rita Hayworth falling in love with Errol Flynn.  The fact that both the leading actors were average looking made the story more realistic and identifiable.  

 

I also felt that this movie was very timely, especially when considering the discussion going on in the 1950s thread.  Post-WWII, after having experienced life as a working employee, many women found the domestic housewife life to be very stifling and boring.  They missed the stimulation of the workplace and tired of having to deal with children's issues and tending to their very capable husband's every need.  Many housewives reported depression and/or use of tranquilizers just to get through their mundane lives.  

 

In Brief Encounter, the lead character, Laura, was bored by her life.  Her husband essentially ignored her to work on the evening's crossword puzzle and living to only tend to the children and go grocery shopping was very boring to her.  When has the chance encounter with Alec on Thursday, which from the sounds of it, was the only day of the week when she went into town and had time to herself, her boring, routine life suddenly gets the adrenaline rush that it needed.  Life with Alec was exciting.  He makes her feel feelings that she hadn't experienced in a long time.  Conversation was exciting.  Spending time with him was exciting.  However, like in real life (usually), she feels guilty for two-timing her husband.  In this film, we don't see much of her husband and we do not see Alec's wife at all.  I believe that this allows the audience to see the situation from only Laura and Alec's side--so we feel for them and want their romance to succeed.  

 

I think the turning point in the relationship was when Alec invites Laura into his friend's home (where he's house-sitting).  It is obvious that he wants to use the apartment as a private place to take their relationship to the next level and make it physical.  I believe that Laura realizes this when she initially refuses, but after boarding her train, she realizes that this is something she wants and returns to Alec.  When his friend returns unexpectedly, she is so embarrassed by what she was about to do that it hurts hers and Alec's relationship.

 

I think the ending where both parties return to their respective spouses is very bittersweet.  On one hand, neither one is breaking up their family and is not committing any sort of moral crime (so to speak).  On the other hand, both Alec and Laura may live their entire lives unhappy and wondering what things would have been like had they left their spouses and run off together.  One would hope that maybe they would both check back into family life and try to make the best of their current situation, but I couldn't help but feel that both had settled and now had lost their chance at true love.

 

Any thoughts about the relationship? The film-making techniques? Anything?

 

I agree with all you say. Excellent realistic and bittersweet film. Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard are perfect as the couple, two average people who stumble into the relationship.

 

I like that there is no consummation, and feel the embarrassment they feel, especially his when caught, and humiliated, by his friend. The usual locale for their rendezvous, the train station tea shop, is suitably dreary and claustrophobic. As for the cinematography, the mostly evening scenes allow the chiaroscuro effect, as well as rain-slick streets and the enveloping train smoke, give the film a typically 40s nourish look.

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I read about this movie for decades before I saw it for the first time a few years back. I think last night was the third time that I've seen it.

 

What always strikes me first about this film is Its beautiful cinematography. The close-ups, The Longshots it's such a beautiful film.

 

And of course there's the music by Rachmaninoff - - his Second Piano Concerto.

 

After I saw it the first time, I went out and bought a recording of it by my favorite concert pianist Van Cliburn.

 

The main character in the movie is a woman who is an upper-middle-class housewife, who has a servant and even though she shops for the groceries, she doesn't seem to be hampered too much with housework or bothering with taking care of her kids.

 

And she even takes time when she goes to the city to buy the groceries to go to the movies. I wouldn't say she's the average American housewife of the 1950's. And her friends seem to be upscale and they seem to have a lot of free time and Expendable income too. Because every time she sees one of them, they are having a good time in a Tea Room, restaurant or wherever. So she's definitely not average.

 

What I love about the structure of the film is how she tells the story herself. It starts at the end goes back to the flashbacks and ends where it starts, which is the end with an additional scene.

 

I love the feeling of isolation that this woman has in a crowd or in the Tea Room. I get the impression that she has this feeling of isolation all the time.

 

I found myself wanting her to go off with Trevor Howard - - who seemed exceedingly desirable, despite the fact I never thought he was desirable in any other film-- of course it's a different time with different societal norms, but I still think that I would have gone off with him, if not for the children.

 

I grew up listening to the record My Fair Lady and I never really have seen much of Stanley Holloway in the movies. So this was an extreme treat to see him as the station manager. The station employees were comic relief, but I also thought that she noticed how satisfied and happy the ladies in the station were with their choices. (Please note here that these are working class people and they wouldn't have the time or the money to live like Celia.)

 

Celia Johnson is wonderful and the only other time I've ever seen her before was in a movie that she made many years later, the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - - Maggie Smith's Oscar movie.

 

I just found so many things in it that I really love - - the classical music, English train stations, classic films, English accent and an ill-fated romance.

 

For some reason I found the conclusion,where she nearly commits suicide a bit unrealistic for the character.

 

Here was a woman who was married with Children and she's ready to have a tryst with her lover but unexpectedly runs out of the flat onto a park bench and is worried about being seen in public smoking because her husband doesn't like those kind of women. LOL

 

She's conflicted; I don't think she would ultimately be happy with either a clandestine Affair or actually leaving her domestic tranquility.

 

It's a beautiful entertaining film, but I don't think it's for everyone.

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Brief Encounter began life as a short play, Still Life, part of Noel Coward's Tonight at 8:30. The leads in the original stage production were Noel Coward and his friend Gertrude Lawrence. Joyce Carey, who plays Myrtle in the film, was also a great friend of Coward's and appeared in the stage play as well.

 

It is not surprising that Alec and Laura go back to their spouses. Noel Coward's people did the right thing, in the end. It could not have been otherwise in his play/film.

 

Another short play from Tonight at 8:30 is The Astonished Heart, which was filmed in 1950. I saw it for the first time a year or so ago. It's not a great film, but I enjoyed it very much. It is quite sparkly black and white and looks wonderful. The stars are Noel Coward, Celia Johnson, and Margaret Leighton (as the other woman). And of course Joyce Carey is in it, as is Noel's partner, Graham Payn.

 

 

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I read about this movie for decades before I saw it for the first time a few years back. I think last night was the third time that I've seen it.

 

What always strikes me first about this film is Its beautiful cinematography. The close-ups, The Longshots it's such a beautiful film.

 

And of course there's the music by Rachmaninoff - - his Second Piano Concerto.

 

After I saw it the first time, I went out and bought a recording of it by my favorite concert pianist Van Cliburn.

 

The main character in the movie is a woman who is an upper-middle-class housewife, who has a servant and even though she shops for the groceries, she doesn't seem to be hampered too much with housework or bothering with taking care of her kids.

 

And she even takes time when she goes to the city to buy the groceries to go to the movies. I wouldn't say she's the average American housewife of the 1950's. And her friends seem to be upscale and they seem to have a lot of free time and Expendable income too. Because every time she sees one of them, they are having a good time in a Tea Room, restaurant or wherever. So she's definitely not average.

 

What I love about the structure of the film is how she tells the story herself. It starts at the end goes back to the flashbacks and ends where it starts, which is the end with an additional scene.

 

I love the feeling of isolation that this woman has in a crowd or in the Tea Room. I get the impression that she has this feeling of isolation all the time.

 

I found myself wanting her to go off with Trevor Howard - - who seemed exceedingly desirable, despite the fact I never thought he was desirable in any other film-- of course it's a different time with different societal norms, but I still think that I would have gone off with him, if not for the children.

 

I grew up listening to the record My Fair Lady and I never really have seen much of Stanley Holloway in the movies. So this was an extreme treat to see him as the station manager. The station employees were comic relief, but I also thought that she noticed how satisfied and happy the ladies in the station were with their choices. (Please note here that these are working class people and they wouldn't have the time or the money to live like Celia.)

 

Celia Johnson is wonderful and the only other time I've ever seen her before was in a movie that she made many years later, the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - - Maggie Smith's Oscar movie.

 

I just found so many things in it that I really love - - the classical music, English train stations, classic films, English accent and an ill-fated romance.

 

For some reason I found the conclusion,where she nearly commits suicide a bit unrealistic for the character.

 

Here was a woman who was married with Children and she's ready to have a tryst with her lover but unexpectedly runs out of the flat onto a park bench and is worried about being seen in public smoking because her husband doesn't like those kind of women. LOL

 

She's conflicted; I don't think she would ultimately be happy with either a clandestine Affair or actually leaving her domestic tranquility.

 

It's a beautiful entertaining film, but I don't think it's for everyone.

 

Also, like all of the very best David Lean films not set during Charles Dickens' time, this one has a loud choo-choo. A Lean movie without a choo-choo after Brief Encounter was a real curio, although there were a few. I was disappointed that he killed the choo-choo in The Bridge On The River Kwai. That was mean!!!! The choo-choo in A Passage To India went through some of the prettiest scenery, while Lawrence Of Arabia's made a nice stage for Peter O'Toole to do his hammy tap-dancing routine. Dr. Zhivago's was the one I would not want to ride even if they did provide plenty of disinfectant in the pots, but the Venice one that opens and closes Summertime would have been fun with Kate Hepburn.

 

If you haven't seen it yet, another great Lean-er with Celia is This Happy Breed, a nostalgic look at a typical Brit family between the two wars and shot in glorious Technicolor in 1943 like his subsequent ghostly comedy with Rex, Blithe Spirit. Even includes a cute homage to 1929's Broadway Melody, when the family starts hearing American accents for the first time on their movie screens. I love it when a movie is featured within a movie to provide a sense of timing (like A Star Is Born shown in a family scene in Mr. And Mrs. Bridge, one of the later Merchant Ivory productions that was quite David Lean-ish).

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Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson appeared in one other movie together, near the end of their careers (and her life). It's Staying On (1980), a BBC (perhaps for television) Production, sometimes mistakenly termed a sequel to Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet, four wonderful novels about the years leading up to Independence. The scope of the novel pales in magnitude of The Raj and so would more properly be an addendum, if anything. It works well just standing alone. Wonderful novel and movie. Scott takes two very minor characters from the Raj who decide to remain in India after Independence. The novel opens 25 years later and we see events leading to the end. I won't attempt to review it but just to say that it contains wonderful riches and you don't need to be familiar with The Raj to enjoy it. It's pretty self-contained. Celia Johnson plays Lucy Smalley who is talkative to contrast with Tusker's almost maddening reticence. It's been that way forever but dammit she needs to talk to him just now. And watch that wonderful Indian actor Saeed Jaffrey play a henpecked husband, award worthy in this role. Trevor and Celia are great and the latter has an astonishingly moving scene that really grabbed me. This is a drama but with much humor. Celia died two years later and Trevor in 1987 I believe.

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***If you haven't seen this film and don't want to know how it ends, do not read this thread***

 

 

I watched Brief Encounter last night.  I had heard about how this film was one of the best romantic films ever made and also saw that it was released by Criterion.  TCM aired the Criterion print last night.

 

This was a great movie. The ending was much different than typical romantic films.  Unlike most romantic films where you can see the happy ending from a mile away, this film had an ending that I felt was much more realistic.  I also found that the way the romance unfolded was also very natural and didn't seem inappropriate even though both characters were married.  In many films of the era, adultery and cheating on the spouses would either not be depicted or the characters involved would meet a terrible fate.  The characters in this film didn't meet a happy fate, but it wasn't any sort of karma for bad behavior.  It was a bittersweet and realistic ending.  I also thought that it made for a better story that neither the lead actor or actress was out-of-this-world attractive.  It wasn't like it was Rita Hayworth falling in love with Errol Flynn.  The fact that both the leading actors were average looking made the story more realistic and identifiable.  

 

I also felt that this movie was very timely, especially when considering the discussion going on in the 1950s thread.  Post-WWII, after having experienced life as a working employee, many women found the domestic housewife life to be very stifling and boring.  They missed the stimulation of the workplace and tired of having to deal with children's issues and tending to their very capable husband's every need.  Many housewives reported depression and/or use of tranquilizers just to get through their mundane lives.  

 

In Brief Encounter, the lead character, Laura, was bored by her life.  Her husband essentially ignored her to work on the evening's crossword puzzle and living to only tend to the children and go grocery shopping was very boring to her.  When has the chance encounter with Alec on Thursday, which from the sounds of it, was the only day of the week when she went into town and had time to herself, her boring, routine life suddenly gets the adrenaline rush that it needed.  Life with Alec was exciting.  He makes her feel feelings that she hadn't experienced in a long time.  Conversation was exciting.  Spending time with him was exciting.  However, like in real life (usually), she feels guilty for two-timing her husband.  In this film, we don't see much of her husband and we do not see Alec's wife at all.  I believe that this allows the audience to see the situation from only Laura and Alec's side--so we feel for them and want their romance to succeed.  

 

I think the turning point in the relationship was when Alec invites Laura into his friend's home (where he's house-sitting).  It is obvious that he wants to use the apartment as a private place to take their relationship to the next level and make it physical.  I believe that Laura realizes this when she initially refuses, but after boarding her train, she realizes that this is something she wants and returns to Alec.  When his friend returns unexpectedly, she is so embarrassed by what she was about to do that it hurts hers and Alec's relationship.

 

I think the ending where both parties return to their respective spouses is very bittersweet.  On one hand, neither one is breaking up their family and is not committing any sort of moral crime (so to speak).  On the other hand, both Alec and Laura may live their entire lives unhappy and wondering what things would have been like had they left their spouses and run off together.  One would hope that maybe they would both check back into family life and try to make the best of their current situation, but I couldn't help but feel that both had settled and now had lost their chance at true love.

 

Any thoughts about the relationship? The film-making techniques? Anything? 

 

I'm so glad you've started a thread about Brief Encounter, speedy, because I feel it's a movie that deserves a lot of discussion. 

I love this movie. I've seen it several times, and am moved and engaged by it with each subsequent viewing.

 

Noel Coward's beautifully understated tale of two ordinary married people who fall in love and do not act upon it is one of the best stories about this timeless situation I've ever seen. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson are so good at conveying the complicated and ambivalent feelings these two characters experience as their gentle ( and genteel !) love affair develops. (And by love "affair", obviously I'm using the word "affair" in the old fashioned sense...in the sense of a romance. Of course, now we associate that word with the sexual aspect of romance, but it had a different connotation back then.)

 

What makes Brief Encounter so poignant and so memorable is that these characters do not consummate their romance  (ie, go to bed with each other.)  They almost do, as you point out in your insightful write-up; but when Alec's friend walks unexpectedly into the flat, the shame, embarrassment, and regret he and Laura feel is almost palpable.

 

You'd never get a movie like this now; the kind of delicacy around the idea of extra-marital affairs, the sense of loyalty to one's spouse and family, and the idea that if one did cross that extra-marital line, one would be doing something terrible and irrevocable, is all a thing of the past now. 

We also need to consider that Laura did feel something for her husband. I'm not sure I agree that he's nothing but an emblem of a stodgy boring constrained life that Laura finds herself trapped in. Although her husband has only a few minutes of screen time, I think it's communicated, very subtly, that he does care about his wife as a person, not just as a "proper wife" and mother of his children. I don't think his desire to do a crossword puzzle indicates he's indifferent to Laura; I see it as more a sign that the two of them are a settled married couple who've been together long enough to feel comfortable with a simple evening together, spending time pursuing different, albeit somewhat unexciting activities like crosswords and knitting, but together in the same room and quietly enjoying each other's company.

Of course, had Laura and Alec gotten together, we imagine them having a more interesting life than that !  (like the things Laura imagines them doing in her fantasy on the train.) But still, we should give credit to Fred ( even his name is stodgy !) for picking up on what's going on with his wife more than we realize. At the very end of the film, he tells her, "Yes, dear, you've been a long way away......Thank you for coming back to me."

 

Other delights of Brief Encounter:

All the train station tea room scenes, rendered vivid and funny by two master British character actors, Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey. Carey's a hoot with her "refined" accent and the fussy prissy act she puts on.

 

The voice-over narrative; it's easy to forget that in a way, Johnson had a lot more to do in this movie than Howard did, as it's her voice that tells the sad story throughout. It's one of those films where voice-over narration really works and adds to the connection the audience feels for the character.

 

The "Britishness" of it all. I love the "stiff upper lip" attitude they all have, the London scenes, even the tea cakes ( that sometimes appear stale) in the station. The whole thing is so very English, and English from a particular time. Noel Coward and David Lean really capture this place and time.

 

The beautiful black and white cinematography ( as someone here has noted.) Brief Encounter is a great example of how sometimes black and white serves the story and mood of a film better than colour.

 

Again, thank you for posting a thread about this movie. I've always loved it.

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One could go on and on about the parallels and contrasts to David Lean's later feature Summertime. I always viewed the 1954 film as the American version of Brief Encounter.

 

Brief Encounter features two Brits with similar mentalities, both concerned about manners and disrupting the status quo. Both are also quite self conscious. Yet they love romance and excitement, even on a lesser level (like the "flames of passion" movies they see after every Donald Duck cartoon). This reflects England at time (either early 1945 when it was filmed or the 1930s pre-war when the story was set... pick your choice) with society eager to find ANY romance and passion in a depressing era cut down by either the Depression or wartime rations. Alec the good doctor becomes a "little boy" with more excitement for his humdrum profession just having known Celia.

 

Dotty (Everly Gregg) is the chatty, unsympathetic annoyance whom Celia's Laura is critical of in her narration but not outwardly (maintaining her British manners) in the scenes with her. She was fine with Dotty's talk-talk-talk in the past, but is now upset having to listen to her because the man she loves is leaving for good and Dotty has only shortened their final moments together.

 

Stephen (Valentine Dyall) is Alec's friend who makes judgements of him after Celia escapes from a potential sex scene at his flat. This adds shame to both Alec and Celia and plants the gradual end of their romance. So much of the relationship, after all, is about making up lies (even Celia calling a friend to cover her by telling yet another fib).

 

This film has comedy relief. The comical flirtings of Albert (Stanley Holloway) and Myrtle (Joyce Carey) amuse Celia as side entertainment. They make her feel good when she is depressed and helps her carry on with her life. Their playful banter reminds her that life isn't all serious.

 

Summertime features a romantic, but somewhat prudish American spinster Jane (Katharine Hepburn) and a married-but-mostly-separated-and-happy-to-stray Italian with few hang ups (Rossano Brazzi). They do hint possible sex going on in a one-night affair with the fireworks scene at night and her red shoes focused on.

 

This film shows the clash of two cultures and this continues with the supporting cast.

 

Lloyd & Edith (MacDonald Parke & Jane Rose) are the chatty, unsympathetic American annoyances whom the Italian hotel owner and widow (no longer married) Signora Fiorini (Isa Miranda) is critical of... because, like Dotty in Brief Encounter jabbing on about silly nonsense,  they are focused on the sites, schedules and prescription pills and not the romance and passion of Venice. At first, Jane is tolerant of them and finds Signoria quite amusing in her criticism, but that is before she too discovers romance and passion that she wasn't expecting... just as Celia's Laura hadn't. Like Dotty, they represent people she was comfortable with in the past. Less so after she discovered a meal is more than just a French sauce and pills. (However we don't see much of that annoying couple after the mid-point.)

 

Another American couple featured are the artist Eddie (Darren McGavin) & wife Phyl (Mari Aldon). He resembles Renalto, but in a slightly sleezier form, when he adopts the bohemian "continental morals" by starting an affair with hotel owner Signora. Jane sees Phyl at the bar distressed in her relationship and sees Eddie and Signora together. Like the situation with Alec and Stephen, Jane starts questioning her own romance. Even though Renalto says he is living a separate life from his wife, she feels ashamed and this would eventually prompt her to end the affair later.

 

This film also has comedy relief. Gaetano Autiero play juvenile Mauro who tags along Jane and manages to rescue her movie camera when she falls into the water. I love this scene since she is not watching where she is going... the plunge into the water is symbolic of her plunge into Renalto Romance and passion. Yet Mauro saves her camera! He is watching for her just like Myrtle in Brief Encounter who just happens to have stationary available when Celia needs it and shows concern in certain small moments. No matter how sobby you are, there is always that cafe in the train station. Mauro to Jane: "You Okey-dokey?"

 

Both movies end with a train separating the two lovers, but there is a slightly different ending "vibe" to these movies. Celia is sad but may eventually get over it as her husband notices that she has been "far away" for a while. However Alec pretty much has to break up the affair, even though it is a mutual decision. Jane, on the other hand, is the breaker in the other movie. However, even if she couldn't get Renalto's gardenia in the end (despite his running effort to catch her on the train), she still has the memories.

 

And... a David Lean movie without a train is not a proper David Lean movie, after all.

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Longtime reader of posts (but infrequent commenter) here...

 

My wife and I watched Brief Encounter the other night.  Many people on here have commented on the story, so I won't cover that ground again.

 

I loved the cinematography.  There were a number of scenes that were shot as reflections (in windows and mirrors); especially of Laura.  There were also several shots where we see the shadows of characters, but not the characters themselves.  I would like to watch it again to see if those signify anything (like if they are when she is tempted to "cross the line").

 

Also, there was a sequence where the camera was askew (a la The Third Man).  I believe this when Laura was fleeing the apartment- I'm sure that the effect was done to symbolize her utter moral disorientation.

 

One thing I'm not sure of, is whether, at the end, Laura's husband had an idea that she was almost lost to him.  Thoughts?

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One could go on and on about the parallels and contrasts to David Lean's later feature Summertime. I always viewed the 1954 film as the American version of Brief Encounter.

A contrast between the two films you mention: Noel Coward trusted David Lean with his short play and loved Brief Encounter; Arthur Laurents hated the film of Summertime. He complained that it was not at all true to his (Arthur's) play, The Time of the Cuckoo, about a plain woman (played on Broadway by Shirley Booth). 

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Longtime reader of posts (but infrequent commenter) here...

 

My wife and I watched Brief Encounter the other night.  Many people on here have commented on the story, so I won't cover that ground again.

 

I loved the cinematography.  There were a number of scenes that were shot as reflections (in windows and mirrors); especially of Laura.  There were also several shots where we see the shadows of characters, but not the characters themselves.  I would like to watch it again to see if those signify anything (like if they are when she is tempted to "cross the line").

 

Also, there was a sequence where the camera was askew (a la The Third Man).  I believe this when Laura was fleeing the apartment- I'm sure that the effect was done to symbolize her utter moral disorientation.

 

One thing I'm not sure of, is whether, at the end, Laura's husband had an idea that she was almost lost to him.  Thoughts?

 

When she is running out of the cafe to see his train go off, leaving Miss Busybody behind, the camera angle is at a sharp slant. That is quite dramatic.

 

While he comments on her being far-off, I still think her hubbie is clueless. She narrates as if it is a letter to him, explaining all that happened. Yet my impression is that, while he is thoughtful and considerate of her, he may be a bit of a nerd. More of an engineer/technician than a romantic. She discussed Alec to him on the first night and he doesn't get any hints. She tells him he is a doctor and all we hear is "a noble profession". Ha ha! Also note how quick he is to turn down the volume of her music.

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Longtime reader of posts (but infrequent commenter) here...

 

My wife and I watched Brief Encounter the other night.  Many people on here have commented on the story, so I won't cover that ground again.

 

I loved the cinematography.  There were a number of scenes that were shot as reflections (in windows and mirrors); especially of Laura.  There were also several shots where we see the shadows of characters, but not the characters themselves.  I would like to watch it again to see if those signify anything (like if they are when she is tempted to "cross the line").

 

Also, there was a sequence where the camera was askew (a la The Third Man).  I believe this when Laura was fleeing the apartment- I'm sure that the effect was done to symbolize her utter moral disorientation.

 

One thing I'm not sure of, is whether, at the end, Laura's husband had an idea that she was almost lost to him.  Thoughts?

 

Yes, that's cool that you noticed the use of reflections and shadows in the film. Thanks for pointing that out, I'm not sure I was as aware of that as you were.

 

As for the last sentence in your post,(which I've bolded), I don't know if you read my comments about Brief Encounter, a few posts back. I think it's unseemly to quote one's own post, but I'll do it because it so completely addresses your question about the husband. This is what I said about that:

 

"We also need to consider that Laura did feel something for her husband. I'm not sure I agree that he's nothing but an emblem of a stodgy boring constrained life that Laura finds herself trapped in. Although her husband has only a few minutes of screen time, I think it's communicated, very subtly, that he does care about his wife as a person, not just as a "proper wife" and mother of his children. I don't think his desire to do a crossword puzzle indicates he's indifferent to Laura; I see it as more a sign that the two of them are a settled married couple who've been together long enough to feel comfortable with a simple evening together, spending time pursuing different, albeit somewhat unexciting activities like crosswords and knitting, but together in the same room and quietly enjoying each other's company.

Of course, had Laura and Alec gotten together, we imagine them having a more interesting life than that !  (like the things Laura imagines them doing in her fantasy on the train.) But still, we should give credit to Fred ( even his name is stodgy !) for picking up on what's going on with his wife more than we realize. At the very end of the film, he tells her, "Yes, dear, you've been a long way away......Thank you for coming back to me."   "

 

Again, sorry to quote myself like that, but I've always thought nobody gives poor Fred (Laura's husband) any credit. I think we're supposed to think he does have some inkling of what was going on with his wife. Also, at the very beginning, Laura starts talking to Fred (in her head of course, not out loud), and she says something like "In a way, Fred, I think you could understand, because you're so good at understanding me, and we're so close..."

 

I might have the exact words wrong, but I remember she says something like that, something that indicates she and her husband are not just going through the motions of marriage. 

If she did not have affection and respect for her husband ( although, admittedly, not the passionate love she feels for Alec), she would not feel so conflicted when she meets Alec. It's not just the judgement of society, and the mores of the day regarding extra-marital affairs, that make her reluctant to sleep with her new love; it's also her genuine loyalty to and caring for her husband that  stops her.

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Hope I did not give the wrong impression in my earlier comments. Of course, he is a devoted and model husband who senses that she has been "away". I didn't think he knew she had a fling.

 

I think the problem was simply that their marriage hit a semi-routine and Alec was just an alternative breath of fresh air to her. Actually there isn't all that much difference between the two men, except maybe a taste in movies and entertainment. There is an interesting key scene early on when wife and husband debate what movie to see. Only she goes with Alec instead.

 

I think The Bridges Of Madison County was one of many stories and films tracing a lineage back to this film. Taking pictures for National Geographic was a bigger turn on to homestruck women than taking cattle to the Iowa fair.

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I think The Bridges Of Madison County was one of many stories and films tracing a lineage back to this film. 

 

Yep, been thinkin' this since his thread started, JL.

 

(...another being THE END OF THE AFFAIR)

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I loved the cinematography.  There were a number of scenes that were shot as reflections (in windows and mirrors); especially of Laura.  There were also several shots where we see the shadows of characters, but not the characters themselves.  I would like to watch it again to see if those signify anything (like if they are when she is tempted to "cross the line").

 

Also, there was a sequence where the camera was askew (a la The Third Man).  I believe this when Laura was fleeing the apartment- I'm sure that the effect was done to symbolize her utter moral disorientation.

It is interesting to note that the cinematography of this film was done by Robert Krasker who would later win an Academy Award for his THIRD MAN work.  He is well known for using the Dutch Angle of photography where scenes are filmed from a less than square angle.  This technique was first used in early films of German Expressionism and has nothing to do with the Dutch themselves but is an offset of Deutcsche. 

 

BRIEF ENCOUNTER is an added film to the short list of my "must sees" along with THE THIRD MAN and CASABLANCA.  I truly believe that Celia Johnson's portrayal is wonderful and you are able to actually see her come out of her British housewife shell when she meets Trevor Howard.  While the filming is done in 1945 the Noel Coward play was actually written in 1938 and the famous train station was filmed in the Carnworth station out of reach of the Luftwaffe.  The station was restored to its pre-war condition including the tea room.  During the war the station was a major transfer point for thousands of British soldiers headed overseas. 

 

So love BRIEF ENCOUNTER and add it to your must see list as you'll see something new or look at it from a different perspective each time. 

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***If you haven't seen this film and don't want to know how it ends, do not read this thread***

 

 

I watched Brief Encounter last night.  I had heard about how this film was one of the best romantic films ever made and also saw that it was released by Criterion.  TCM aired the Criterion print last night.

 

This was a great movie. The ending was much different than typical romantic films.  Unlike most romantic films where you can see the happy ending from a mile away, this film had an ending that I felt was much more realistic.  I also found that the way the romance unfolded was also very natural and didn't seem inappropriate even though both characters were married.  In many films of the era, adultery and cheating on the spouses would either not be depicted or the characters involved would meet a terrible fate.  The characters in this film didn't meet a happy fate, but it wasn't any sort of karma for bad behavior.  It was a bittersweet and realistic ending.  I also thought that it made for a better story that neither the lead actor or actress was out-of-this-world attractive.  It wasn't like it was Rita Hayworth falling in love with Errol Flynn.  The fact that both the leading actors were average looking made the story more realistic and identifiable.  

 

I also felt that this movie was very timely, especially when considering the discussion going on in the 1950s thread.  Post-WWII, after having experienced life as a working employee, many women found the domestic housewife life to be very stifling and boring.  They missed the stimulation of the workplace and tired of having to deal with children's issues and tending to their very capable husband's every need.  Many housewives reported depression and/or use of tranquilizers just to get through their mundane lives.  

 

In Brief Encounter, the lead character, Laura, was bored by her life.  Her husband essentially ignored her to work on the evening's crossword puzzle and living to only tend to the children and go grocery shopping was very boring to her.  When has the chance encounter with Alec on Thursday, which from the sounds of it, was the only day of the week when she went into town and had time to herself, her boring, routine life suddenly gets the adrenaline rush that it needed.  Life with Alec was exciting.  He makes her feel feelings that she hadn't experienced in a long time.  Conversation was exciting.  Spending time with him was exciting.  However, like in real life (usually), she feels guilty for two-timing her husband.  In this film, we don't see much of her husband and we do not see Alec's wife at all.  I believe that this allows the audience to see the situation from only Laura and Alec's side--so we feel for them and want their romance to succeed.  

 

I think the turning point in the relationship was when Alec invites Laura into his friend's home (where he's house-sitting).  It is obvious that he wants to use the apartment as a private place to take their relationship to the next level and make it physical.  I believe that Laura realizes this when she initially refuses, but after boarding her train, she realizes that this is something she wants and returns to Alec.  When his friend returns unexpectedly, she is so embarrassed by what she was about to do that it hurts hers and Alec's relationship.

 

I think the ending where both parties return to their respective spouses is very bittersweet.  On one hand, neither one is breaking up their family and is not committing any sort of moral crime (so to speak).  On the other hand, both Alec and Laura may live their entire lives unhappy and wondering what things would have been like had they left their spouses and run off together.  One would hope that maybe they would both check back into family life and try to make the best of their current situation, but I couldn't help but feel that both had settled and now had lost their chance at true love.

 

Any thoughts about the relationship? The film-making techniques? Anything? 

 

I am taken with the scenes where early in their relationship, Laura and Alec are trying to be above-board and rather platonic at first blush with their meetings.  Catching a flick together -- going dutch at tea time -- all the while Alec is growing more interested in her and Laura is being more enchanted with his attention.  

 

i always thought their day out at the park in the boat was their turning point where the relationship deepened and both could acknowledge it -for what it was becoming- just at the time it would be ending.  It was very natural, something even the most moral in the audience could understand how love could grow between these two.  I think that's what makes this story so bittersweet; it is the loveliest of romances, only the participants are already in promised relationships with other people when it started. 

 

It is not lost on me the effect of Laura's rather awful friend, oblivious to the heartache that Laura and Alec are feeling at the train station at their last moments together, is pretty much the way the public world actually sees Laura and Alec as well.  It is notable counterpoint to all the intensity of the scenes of just the two of them, especially since it is largely Laura's perspective.  Intimately furtive with each other while publicly quite innocent in appearance. 

 

Noel Coward is biting with the final scene. I believe the ending with Laura and her husband at the end is a takeaway that the viewer can form in their minds from their own perspective: whether it's redemptive for her marriage or acknowledgement of Laura's full-on heartbreak.  Her tears can be understood either way. 

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I am taken with the scenes where early in their relationship, Laura and Alec are trying to be above-board and rather platonic at first blush with their meetings.  Catching a flick together -- going dutch at tea time -- all the while Alec is growing more interested in her and Laura is being more enchanted with his attention.  

 

i always thought their day out at the park in the boat was their turning point where the relationship deepened and both could acknowledge it -for what it was becoming- just at the time it would be ending.  It was very natural, something even the most moral in the audience could understand how love could grow between these two.  I think that's what makes this story so bittersweet; it is the loveliest of romances, only the participants are already in promised relationships with other people when it started. 

 

It is not lost on me the effect of Laura's rather awful friend, oblivious to the heartache that Laura and Alec are feeling at the train station at their last moments together, is pretty much the way the public world actually sees Laura and Alec as well.  It is notable counterpoint to all the intensity of the scenes of just the two of them, especially since it is largely Laura's perspective.  Intimately furtive with each other while publicly quite innocent in appearance. 

 

Noel Coward is biting with the final scene. I believe the ending with Laura and her husband at the end is a takeaway that the viewer can form in their minds from their own perspective: whether it's redemptive for her marriage or acknowledgement of Laura's full-on heartbreak.  Her tears can be understood either way. 

 

It was interesting how they kept their relationship platonic at first, and even went above and beyond making things platonic--such as the going Dutch at lunch.  I think at first, Laura just saw him as an interesting companion, someone to spend her one day a week in town with.  Even though we never see Alec's wife, nor do we know much about her and what is going on in her and Alec's marriage.  I get the idea that perhaps she's devoted herself solely to their children and perhaps ignores her husband.  When he meets Laura, he finds someone that is easy to talk to and is fun to spend time with--without any children in sight.  Perhaps Laura represents adult interaction that he misses.  I also agree about the boat trip.  The turning point in their relationship in my opinion, was the kiss on the bridge.  I think the botched sexual encounter toward the end of the film is what killed the relationship.  

 

Re: the awful friend.  I thought she was kind of funny at the beginning of the film when Laura's voice-over is basically begging her to shut up.  Laura, of course, being very British and polite, feigns interest.  At the end though, it is obvious how oblivious the woman is in her inane talk and you, as the viewer, can feel for Laura and Alec as this woman ruins their last moments together.  You just want to jump into the screen and tell her to stuff it so that Laura and Alec can say their goodbyes.  

 

Re: the ending.  I think both scenarios are in play here.  Laura has redeemed herself somewhat for not leaving her husband and children behind, but you can't help but feel for her that she may have let happiness slip away.  However, being known as a homewrecker, especially in such a rigid society, may bring her unhappiness as well.  I cannot remember, is the ending of their relationship a mutual decision made by Alec and Laura? Or was it just Alec's idea?  I remember him being the one who suggested it.

 

It is interesting to note that the cinematography of this film was done by Robert Krasker who would later win an Academy Award for his THIRD MAN work.  He is well known for using the Dutch Angle of photography where scenes are filmed from a less than square angle.  This technique was first used in early films of German Expressionism and has nothing to do with the Dutch themselves but is an offset of Deutcsche. 

 

BRIEF ENCOUNTER is an added film to the short list of my "must sees" along with THE THIRD MAN and CASABLANCA.  I truly believe that Celia Johnson's portrayal is wonderful and you are able to actually see her come out of her British housewife shell when she meets Trevor Howard.  While the filming is done in 1945 the Noel Coward play was actually written in 1938 and the famous train station was filmed in the Carnworth station out of reach of the Luftwaffe.  The station was restored to its pre-war condition including the tea room.  During the war the station was a major transfer point for thousands of British soldiers headed overseas. 

 

So love BRIEF ENCOUNTER and add it to your must see list as you'll see something new or look at it from a different perspective each time. 

 

I really liked the cinematography in this film.  I agree about the slanted angles.  These non-square angles help in conveying the current state of mind of the characters.  When Laura and Alec are engaged in their affair and conflicted as to what they're doing and whether or not it's right, the characters are presented in a slant.  If I remember right, at one point (or multiple points), they're fully ensconced in shadows when they're at the peak of their affair.  

 

After everyone's statements here, I'm going to need to re-watch this film with some of these new perspectives and see if I see the film differently. 

 

I think the problem was simply that their marriage hit a semi-routine and Alec was just an alternative breath of fresh air to her. Actually there isn't all that much difference between the two men, except maybe a taste in movies and entertainment. There is an interesting key scene early on when wife and husband debate what movie to see. Only she goes with Alec instead.

 

I do agree that Laura and her husband's relationship had grown stale due to the routine.  I stated in my original post that I thought that her husband ignored her and she felt neglected, but as I read more comments and hear other perspectives, I think I will have to amend my original impression and say that I agree that perhaps her problem was more that she was bored because she and her husband had settled into a comfortable routine. I don't remember the movie scene, I will need to re-watch.

 

The scene between Laura and her husband that I found interesting was when Laura suggests inviting Alec over for dinner and her husband Fred jokes that she should invite Alec over for lunch, because he's never home during the day, and thus wouldn't have to entertain any guests.  I found it interesting since it seems that Laura pretty much eats lunch with Alec weekly.  It's almost as if her husband has given his wife permission to have lunch with this man.  Not sure if he knows what's going on, or if he's truly being facetious and just doesn't want to entertain any guests.

 

As for the last sentence in your post,(which I've bolded), I don't know if you read my comments about Brief Encounter, a few posts back. I think it's unseemly to quote one's own post, but I'll do it because it so completely addresses your question about the husband. This is what I said about that:

 

"We also need to consider that Laura did feel something for her husband. I'm not sure I agree that he's nothing but an emblem of a stodgy boring constrained life that Laura finds herself trapped in. Although her husband has only a few minutes of screen time, I think it's communicated, very subtly, that he does care about his wife as a person, not just as a "proper wife" and mother of his children. I don't think his desire to do a crossword puzzle indicates he's indifferent to Laura; I see it as more a sign that the two of them are a settled married couple who've been together long enough to feel comfortable with a simple evening together, spending time pursuing different, albeit somewhat unexciting activities like crosswords and knitting, but together in the same room and quietly enjoying each other's company.

 

Of course, had Laura and Alec gotten together, we imagine them having a more interesting life than that !  (like the things Laura imagines them doing in her fantasy on the train.) But still, we should give credit to Fred ( even his name is stodgy !) for picking up on what's going on with his wife more than we realize. At the very end of the film, he tells her, "Yes, dear, you've been a long way away......Thank you for coming back to me."   "

 

Again, sorry to quote myself like that, but I've always thought nobody gives poor Fred (Laura's husband) any credit. I think we're supposed to think he does have some inkling of what was going on with his wife. Also, at the very beginning, Laura starts talking to Fred (in her head of course, not out loud), and she says something like "In a way, Fred, I think you could understand, because you're so good at understanding me, and we're so close..."

 

I might have the exact words wrong, but I remember she says something like that, something that indicates she and her husband are not just going through the motions of marriage. 

If she did not have affection and respect for her husband ( although, admittedly, not the passionate love she feels for Alec), she would not feel so conflicted when she meets Alec. It's not just the judgement of society, and the mores of the day regarding extra-marital affairs, that make her reluctant to sleep with her new love; it's also her genuine loyalty to and caring for her husband that  stops her.

 

As I stated above, I have re-evaluated my initial impression of Fred.  I do think that their relationship has gotten too comfortable as opposed to Fred being neglectful.  At the end, I did not initially get the idea that Fred knew what was going on.  I figured when he thanks her for coming back, I took it as her having spaced out for quite some time while she narrated the course of events in she and Alec's relationship.  Her husband was thanking her for coming back when she finally snapped out of it.  Perhaps his statement is symbolic of the fact that not only is Laura again mentally present (in addition to being physically present), she's also emotionally present again as well.  Perhaps over the course of the relationship, which I imagine lasted at least a couple months, Fred sensed that while physically present, Laura was emotionally present.  

 

I am curious as to whether he ever wondered where she was on her late nights out with Alec.  I understand that Thursday was her day to go to town and probably returning around dinner time was typical, but at least on one occasion (if not more), she was still at the train station at 10:30pm.  I'd imagine that prior to Alec, Laura wasn't out that late. 

 

I hadn't considered Laura's feelings for her husband as to why she doesn't go through with her relationship with Alec.  I don't know why, it seems like consideration for Fred should be the #1 priority.  For whatever reason, I considered the "scarlet letter" she'd get from society is what ultimately kept her from straying. 

 

I loved the cinematography.  There were a number of scenes that were shot as reflections (in windows and mirrors); especially of Laura.  There were also several shots where we see the shadows of characters, but not the characters themselves.  I would like to watch it again to see if those signify anything (like if they are when she is tempted to "cross the line").

 

Also, there was a sequence where the camera was askew (a la The Third Man).  I believe this when Laura was fleeing the apartment- I'm sure that the effect was done to symbolize her utter moral disorientation.

 

One thing I'm not sure of, is whether, at the end, Laura's husband had an idea that she was almost lost to him.  Thoughts?

 

I commented on the askew camera work in my earlier response, but what I did like were the use of reflections.  I commented on the reflection of Laura in the window of the train when she's doing some self-reflection on her relationship with Alec.  I liked that the frame was composed to show Laura literally reflected in the window while she mentally reflects on the prior events in the film.  I agree about the idea of moral disorientation.  She almost seems so ashamed of what she was about to do and is also embarrassed at being seen by Alec's friend.  To Alec's friend, she is just some floozy that he brought up to the apartment.  In addition to her personal ethics, I believe that Laura is also upset that her personal sense of decorum has been compromised. 

 

Other delights of Brief Encounter:

All the train station tea room scenes, rendered vivid and funny by two master British character actors, Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey. Carey's a hoot with her "refined" accent and the fussy prissy act she puts on.

 

The voice-over narrative; it's easy to forget that in a way, Johnson had a lot more to do in this movie than Howard did, as it's her voice that tells the sad story throughout. It's one of those films where voice-over narration really works and adds to the connection the audience feels for the character.

 

The "Britishness" of it all. I love the "stiff upper lip" attitude they all have, the London scenes, even the tea cakes ( that sometimes appear stale) in the station. The whole thing is so very English, and English from a particular time. Noel Coward and David Lean really capture this place and time.

 

The beautiful black and white cinematography ( as someone here has noted.) Brief Encounter is a great example of how sometimes black and white serves the story and mood of a film better than colour.

 

Again, thank you for posting a thread about this movie. I've always loved it.

 

I agree that Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey are delightful in this film.  They bring about some comic relief and I imagine, they also bring a bit of relaxation to Laura who is very conflicted throughout much of the film.  

 

I loved the narration.  This narration seemed to be used specifically to convey a certain feeling or mood.  It wasn't just narration performed out of a style aspect (like many noir).  The narration mainly served as Laura's internal monologue and in a way, it was also her conscious.  Her narration also serves as a confession of sorts, even if it was internal.  Her conscious forces her to confess.  I figure she wants to come clean and tell her husband, but isn't sure how to go about it.  Her internal monologue is her trying to sort everything out to figure out what she wants to say.  Perhaps at the end, when her husband thanks her for coming back, maybe she opts not to tell him at all? 

 

I also loved the "British-ness" of the film.  In some ways, they're so refined and stodgy and also unnecessarily prissy about things.  It is fun to watch and provides a nice aesthetic to the film.  It also gives the film a more sophisticated feeling, as the relationship between Laura and Alec is sophisticated and complicated.  This isn't merely a case of puppy love between two teenagers.  This is a budding romance between two average middle aged people.  

 

I also loved the choice to put the film in black and white.  I think color would have cheapened the effect.  The shadows wouldn't have worked nearly as well in color. 

 

You're welcome for the thread.  I think after all this, I'll definitely need to give the film a re-watch. 

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I do see there is much to chew on here.

 

It was interesting how they kept their relationship platonic at first, and even went above and beyond making things platonic--such as the going Dutch at lunch.  I think at first, Laura just saw him as an interesting companion, someone to spend her one day a week in town with.  Even though we never see Alec's wife, nor do we know much about her and what is going on in her and Alec's marriage.  I get the idea that perhaps she's devoted herself solely to their children and perhaps ignores her husband.  When he meets Laura, he finds someone that is easy to talk to and is fun to spend time with--without any children in sight.  Perhaps Laura represents adult interaction that he misses.  I also agree about the boat trip.  The turning point in their relationship in my opinion, was the kiss on the bridge.  I think the botched sexual encounter toward the end of the film is what killed the relationship.  

 

After everyone's statements here, I'm going to need to re-watch this film with some of these new perspectives and see if I see the film differently. 

 

 

I do agree that Laura and her husband's relationship had grown stale due to the routine.  I stated in my original post that I thought that her husband ignored her and she felt neglected, but as I read more comments and hear other perspectives, I think I will have to amend my original impression and say that I agree that perhaps her problem was more that she was bored because she and her husband had settled into a comfortable routine. I don't remember the movie scene, I will need to re-watch.

 

I hadn't considered Laura's feelings for her husband as to why she doesn't go through with her relationship with Alec.  I don't know why, it seems like consideration for Fred should be the #1 priority.  For whatever reason, I considered the "scarlet letter" she'd get from society is what ultimately kept her from straying. 

 

 

 

This movie is so filled with subtext.  The opening is heavy with the air of it, like the steam and fog at the station obscuring what is really not in focus until the train approaches.  That is why, to me at least, when Laura starts her thoughts that we hear, these are unfiltered and her genuine observations of how she is feeling.  We can't ignore them.  We finally see Laura and we discover that no one else will.   

 

She is very direct in her moments, with her darning basket in her lap, when she looks at Fred and thinks: 

 

Fred, dear Fred. There's so much that I want to say to you. You're the only one in the world with enough wisdom and gentleness to understand. If only it was somebody else's story and not mine. As it is, you're the only one in the world that I can never tell. Never never. Because even if I waited until we were old, old people and told you then, you'd be bound to look back over the years and be hurt. And my dear, I don't want you to be hurt. You see, we're a happily married couple and let's never forget that. This is my home. You're my husband. And my children are upstairs in bed. I'm a happily married woman - or I was, rather, until a few weeks ago. This is my whole world, and it's enough, or rather, it was until a few weeks ago. But, oh, Fred, I've been so foolish. I've fallen in love. I'm an ordinary woman. I didn't think such violent things could happen to ordinary people.

 

I don't see a sense of social standing at this point; she is not ashamed.  She knows how her experience can hurt someone who trusts her -- and now she must protect Fred's image of her and their marriage.  I see she conveys her state subtly about Fred and very direct about Alex, that it's not about propriety or social acceptance.    

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It is interesting to note that the cinematography of this film was done by Robert Krasker who would later win an Academy Award for his THIRD MAN work.  He is well known for using the Dutch Angle of photography where scenes are filmed from a less than square angle.  This technique was first used in early films of German Expressionism and has nothing to do with the Dutch themselves but is an offset of Deutcsche. 

 

BRIEF ENCOUNTER is an added film to the short list of my "must sees" along with THE THIRD MAN and CASABLANCA.  I truly believe that Celia Johnson's portrayal is wonderful and you are able to actually see her come out of her British housewife shell when she meets Trevor Howard.  While the filming is done in 1945 the Noel Coward play was actually written in 1938 and the famous train station was filmed in the Carnworth station out of reach of the Luftwaffe.  The station was restored to its pre-war condition including the tea room.  During the war the station was a major transfer point for thousands of British soldiers headed overseas. 

 

So love BRIEF ENCOUNTER and add it to your must see list as you'll see something new or look at it from a different perspective each time. 

 

Thanks for the response.  Ill have to look up cinematographer Robert Krasker as I love the look of both Brief Encounter and The Third Man and there may be some movies that I have yet to discover that were filmed by him.

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