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Brief Encounter (1945)


jjnagel
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I just watched "Brief Encounter" (1945) for the third time. I love this movie very much. It is so well made in its own distinctive way. To me, it is totally a tragedy. Laura Jesson (actress Celia Johnson) and Dr. Alec Harvey (actor Trevor Howard) are both married, but fall in love with each other. The tragedy is not that they eventually separate, deny their true love, and go back to their respective marriages. The tragedy concerns "marriage" itself, and how this man-made institution so thoroughly fails to meet the needs of individuals. I scream silently in my mind: why do we do this to ourselves? Marriage seems to be the DEATH of true love. Why, oh why, do we bother with this monogamous custom? It serves nobody. This movie, in the most beautiful manner possible, is a masterpiece of TRUTH. Why does humanity tether itself to chains that suppress Love? This movie, coupled with Rachmaninoff's gorgeous music, is an unacknowledged masterpiece, and it is both beautiful and revealing as to why MARRIAGE fails as an institution for Humanity. I so wish Laura and Alec could acknowledge their love, and go with it.

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Welcome to this forum. You chose a good film to comment on in your first post -- it's a love story for adults.

 

As to the larger subject you discussed: a young man asked Socrates, "Should I marry or stay single?"

 

Socrates' reply was: "Whatever you do, you'll regret it."

 

For me, that sums up the dilemma of marriage very nicely.

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The great Noel Coward -- "The Master" -- was very much a "stiff-upper-lip" Englishman, who believed in doing the "right" thing. It would not have been a Noel Coward play/movie if the lovers left their spouses and children. "Do the right thing" was very important to him.

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>Marriage seems to be the DEATH of true love.

 

It doesn't work the other way either. It is boredom that is the death of true love. Sooner or later you'll get bored with your new lover too.

 

You've heard the term "The Honeymoon is over"? That means the thrill of a new romance never lasts very long. Maybe 5 years or so. For some people, just a year or two. For others maybe 8 or 9 years.

 

Then when you find someone new, and the old thrill comes back, it is only for a while, and then the same thing happens all over again.

 

Today it is called "serial monogamy".

 

Oh, and as you get older, you begin to fall apart. Your bones begin to ache, your eyes begin to blur, your insides begin to do odd things. You start accumulating fat, and wrinkles, and you begin to sag.

 

So, what should we do about all these things that happen to everyone?

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This movie is on my list of films I would like to screen with my family. It sounded to me like a movie about the sanctity of vows and commitment, not a tragedy on the marriage trap. An interesting take, though, and it makes me want to watch it all the more!

 

As for marriage itself - I just know that I would not be thrilled with the prospect of building a life and having children with someone who was committed right up until the next Brief Encounter.

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