sunday best #10: “Brief Encounter”

Brief Encounter
Directed by David Lean
First released in 1945

John Anstie says:

Brief Encounter was made in 1945 and based on Noël Coward’s one act play, Still Life. It was directed by none other than David Lean (before he produced such epics as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter and A Passage to India), and its stars were the remarkable Celia Johnson (never truly publicly recognised for her extraordinary acting talent) and the equally good Trevor Howard.

Brief Encounter is nominally a tale of infidelity and indiscretion, but instead evolves into a story of much greater integrity, about a man and a woman who meet accidentally at a railway station and develop a strong attraction. It manages to be thoroughly, achingly enchanting, despite or perhaps because of the unrequited love.

Rather like good poetry, the film distils the essence of a well written, very moving and memorable story. Filmed in black and white, in a close up and personal cinematic way, with great direction and the use of top drawer actors, it renders as pointless the extravagance of the Hollywood and big budget pictures of the time, and is quite simply a gem of British cinema. Save for the hardest heart, I doubt that anyone, whether young or old, would not be moved by this film.

Its un-extravagant, simple story-telling permanently changed my view of what makes good cinema (and probably influenced a lot of others including film makers as well).

John Anstie
“Brief Encounter” is recommended by John Anstie (see also his six things.
  • First released: 1945
  • Current availability: Available on Amazon UK

Want to share your own sunday best with us? Please do!
Here are the guidelines for what to send and how to send it.