Monday, November 30, 2009

Brief Encounter

This is probably the all-time champion romantic tear-jerker. It is absolutely peerless.

An Affair To Remember? Not even close.
Now, Voyager? Oh, please!
Sleepless In Seattle? Nice try!
The Bridges Of Madison County? Close, but no cigar!

And the musical score? Pianist Eileen Joyce played Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the National Symphony Orchestra. Also peerless.

The story begins in an English railway station and is told in flashback, narrated by the heroine, Laura. Telling the story in a flashback is always difficult to pull off in a movie because the audience has already seen the end of the story and they think they have a pretty good idea of what will follow. But in this case, they are very wrong, the real story is hidden from them and, at the end, they will see the first scene played out again with unexpected poignancy.

For example, when we see Laura enter the train station cafe at the beginning of the movie, it doesn't make much of an impression. But at the end of the movie we see the same shot again and we know that Laura has just tried to throw herself in front of a speeding train.

Directed by David Lean (Great Expectations, Laurence Of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago). A former film editor, his family were Quakers, and watching movies was forbidden.

Celia Johnson (1908-1990) played Laura. A fine actress, she also played Mrs. DeWynter in the stage production of Rebecca, the part played in the movie by Joan Fontaine.

Noel Coward wrote the play ("Still Life").

Another favorite of mine, Harold And Maude, was also directed by a former editor, Hal Ashby, and also written by a gay man, Colin Higgins.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

You had me at "also directed Lawrence of Arabia." I'll watch anything with anyone tied to that movie.

P.S. Sleepless in Seattle was one of the dumbest, most dysfunctional movies I ever saw. Meg Ryan ditches her fiance for a guy she's been stalking via late-night radio. Riiiiiiiiight.