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From Noël Coward's play Still Life, legendary filmmaker David Lean deftly explores the thrill, pain, and tenderness of an illicit romance in the dour, gray Britain of 1945. From a chance meeting on a train platform, a middle-aged married doctor (Trevor Howard) and a suburban housewife (Celia Johnson) enter into a quietly passionate, ultimately doomed love affair, set to a swirling Rachmaninoff score. Criterion is proud to present Lean's award-winning masterpiece a beautifully restored digital transfer.
To many, Brief Encounter may seem like a relic of more proper times--or, specifically, more properly British times--when the pressures of marital decorum and fidelity were perhaps more keenly felt. In truth, David Lean's fourth film remains a timeless study of true love (or, rather, the promise of it), and the aching desire for intimate connection that is often subdued by the obligations of marriage. And so it is that ordinary Londoners Alec (Trevor Howard), a married doctor, and contented housewife Laura (Celia Johnson) meet by chance one day in a train station, when he volunteers to remove a fleck of ash from her eye (a romantic gesture that, perhaps, inspired Robert Towne's "flaw in the iris" scene in Chinatown).
It so happens that their schedules coincide at the train station every Thursday, and their casual attraction grows, through quiet conversation and longing expressions, into the desperate recognition of mutual love. From this point forward, Lean turns this utterly precise, 85-minute film into a bracing study of romantic suspense, leading inevitably, and with the paranoid, furtive glances of a spy thriller, to the moment when this brief encounter must be consummated or abandoned altogether. Decades later, the outcome of this affair--both agonizing and rapturous--is subtle and yet powerful enough to draw tears from the numbest of souls, and spark debate regarding the tragedy or virtue of the choices made. A truly universal film, with meticulously controlled emotions revealed through the flawless performances of Howard and Johnson, and an enduring masterpiece that continued Lean on his course to cinematic greatness. --Jeff Shannon
Excellent flick with great acting performances. Audio and video quality were both good. Rachimonoff concerto provides great musical background. DVD arrived in great shape. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jean-paul N. Mertens
Oh, this is such a brilliant movie - means so much to me as I was born and raised in the U.K. and my mum used to take me to the Kardomah Cafe, where these two used to go, when I... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Maxine
the movie was well done, but I was disappointed with the story.
after hearing about it in 'Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont' I expected it to be sadder.
This DVD was a gift for my husband. It was in perfect shape when received and has been watched several times since its arrival. Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2013 by BARBARA J MARTIN
I purchsed this on amazon and it was sent from England. Their system for playing DVDs does not work on our system - they use PAl . Therefore I couldn't play it . Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2010 by right
If you loved Lost in Translation, you'll love this.
If you love Sleepless in Seattle and similar modern romance classics, see the movie that inspired those filmmakers. Read more