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Brief Encounter (Full Screen)

Celia Johnson , Trevor Howard , David Lean    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Product Description


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

Product Description

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.

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Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encounter Brief Encounter May 11 2004
1946's Brief Encounter, directed by David Lean (of Doctor Zhivago fame, which he would later direct in 1965) is a great film full of subtlety, romance and melancholia. Shot in black and white, this film is almost a signature of the 40's, as was the more popular and successful Casablanca. Without mention of World War II, this film deals with internal struggles of the heart. Cecila Johnson stars as the romantic heroine, a married woman and Trevor Howard the love interest, a married doctor. Though it's apparent they are disenchanted with their marriages and they are in love with each other, they never fully give in to a passionate affair. It's a romance that is mostly feelings and emotions, furtive glances, sighs, talk and regular meetings that are brief in a train station.
David Lean is experimenting with many techniques, particularily intimate angles and interior monologue. No film can ever top his Doctor Zhivago, but this film is at least second best and good for its time in 1946. There is a particularly impressive scene in which the lovers are interrupted and Celia Johnson's character must take a train trip with a very chatty, annoying woman friend. The older woman chatters away and we tap into Celia's thoughts. "I wish she would stop talking.. I wish she were dead" (I thought this was hilarious because we are wishing the same thing by that point)....but then she reprimands herself and comes to the conclusion, after a tiring day, that life does not last, that nothing really lasts forever, neither happiness nor despair. It's very poignant. Another reason besides the great acting and the story itself is the fact that Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, regarded as his finest, is played in this film. The dramatic, romantic storm that is the first movement, followed by a melancholy adagio, is very effective for this type of film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest love stories ever filmed June 14 2002
This has to be one of my favourite films of all times. The script is superb, the acting unrivalled and the atmosphere electric. Everything about it is just wonderful. Everything that is except this DVD. Is it just me, or has anyone else found that the transfer to DVD is simply appalling? I have bought 3 copies of this disc from 3 different suppliers, only to find on each one that the picture continually washes from light to almost pitch black every few seconds throughout the film. None of the other reviews here mention this fact, but I can't believe it's just been my bad luck. What a shame. I've been waiting for this movie for on DVD for a long time, but it's a waste of time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An age of innocence March 21 2003
Well before Adrian Lyne's morality tales about adultery came this David Lean non-epic that didn't burst, early into the film, with sexual aggression. Rather, that subtle pain of nervous tension, between adults who are attracted to each other but who are not allowed to act on it, is brought to life in an age of innocence and rules.
Lean's style is stylistic in subtle doses (we can neither forget the atmosphere of the train station, nor the tilting camera when suicide almost happens). It is a compact, Lean (pun intended) narrative that had to be, immediately upon completion, an eternal masterpiece.
This Criterion Collection DVD bears an excellent transfer; it must have coincided with the new print I saw at the American Film Institute National Theater in Washington. However, unlike most Criterion DVDs, there is very little in the nature of extras, other than a commentary track and a brief description of the restoration process. (That is to say, no documentary.)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont buy Aug. 19 2010
By right
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 . I returned this back to England and still am awaiting resolution to this problem. Why on earth would Amazon.ca offer their customers to purchase a dvd which they must have known wouldn't work here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 14 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
One of my favorite films.
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2.0 out of 5 stars brief encoounter March 6 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.

W Owen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great rainy day movie :) Dec 16 2002
This is a classic tearjerker. I first saw this movie late one night when I was in college on my local PBS station. I knew from the moment it started it was a title that I must add to my video collection.
It is a simple tale that makes whole the saying, "It is better to have loved and lost then not to love at all." The characters are two "common" people (doctor and housewife, respectively) that find in one another what they lack in their individual married lives (we really don't have much of a clue as to what these are -- but it really doesn't matter -- the story is about them).
This movie was adapted from the play originally from Noel Coward; so particularly the train station scenes are obviously stagy; but what David Lean did (which I found out from the commentary) was open up the film with exterior shots of the couple "in town."
Overall it is lovely telling picture that I highly recommend. Criterion has yet again done a magnificent job with the digital transfer making you feel like you are back in the Cineplex of the mid-late 1940's experiencing this film. Of course, this is without the big-screen. So curl onto your couch with a bowl of popcorn and enjoy while the rain hits the window . . .
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