That parody of British films of the period, in which the sensual restraint made visible in the clothes and the stiffness of bearing of the imperial representatives of European civilization is meant to proclaim their superiority to naked and therefore presumably licentious subject peoples, is a mockery of the very idea of passion. But it also reminds us of the dangers that passion represents to them, even though these are somewhat marginalized through caricature, and by being attributed to people far away in Africa.
That, by the way, is precisely where Alec is driven by his hopeless passion for Laura, though doubtless as a representative of that civilization which is the antidote to the jungle excesses of passion. For him and for Laura, perhaps, as for the self-appointed bringers of civilization to the Africans — as also, by the way, for the white settlers among the Comanches in Texas in The Searchers , which we showed last summer — sexual restraint and the institution of marriage which it sustains is a central symbol of the all-important difference between civilization and savagery.
In the earlier film, restraint was only temporary and a relatively small price to pay for ultimate fulfilment. The Walls of Jericho eventually come down, though the miraculousness of that event is also a part of the miraculousness of romance itself. Except that for Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson to refrain from consummating their passion for each other because of the obligation each owes to another and to — I think it not too much to say — the community founded on the institutions of marriage and family is itself a kind of miracle.
Because that movie was a comedy, the onerousness is magically taken away. Dexter gives up his drinking and becomes a perfectly delightful companion for any girl.
But it still suggests, as Brief Encounter does, that the trials and crosses that we endure in love are part of the romance of marriage, rather than what I call the soap opera of divorce. George Weigel. More Subscription Options. Peter Wehner.
Comments on the website or technical programs? Email webmaster eppc. Toggle navigation. Ben Brantley, who just got around to reviewing it for The New York Times last week, wrote that it all seems too precious at first.
Comments are closed. But for a generation that remembers when the trains ran on time and station buffets were as tidy and inviting as the one in this movie, Brief Encounter is etched in nostalgia for an era when trapped middle-class lives contemplated adultery but set the disturbing thought aside.
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We are accustomed to attributing films to directors, but it's only proper to regard Coward as an equal author of this movie. It is Coward's preference, too, that family and stability are so respected in this film.
Never married, and discreetly gay, Coward knew enough not to offend middle-class propriety. David Lean, on the other hand, was raised a strict Quaker and was always in rebellion against restraint — so he was married six times and, on his own, he might have pushed Laura and Alec a degree or two further than made Coward comfortable. If that sounds odd, you have to remember the extent to which Lean was Coward's protege.
By Dan Callahan. For many cinephiles, the name David Lean signifies grand moviemaking—sweeping epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. But the long and eclectic career of this legendary British director encompasses arresting intimacy as well, as evidenced by the films of his in the Criterion Collection.
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All are graced by evocative, shadowy black-and-white cinematography and elegantly restrained compositions. Summertime, his gorgeous Technicolor trip to Venice with Katharine Hepburn, marked a turning point in his career: the sun-dappled location shoot was galvanizing for Lean, and the remainder of his films, from The Bridge on the River Kwai to A Passage to India, could be considered outdoor spectacles.
The truth about Brief Encounter: SHE had no teeth - and HE was a psychopath!
Le notti bianche Luchino Visconti. Summertime David Lean.
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A scene from Brief Encounter. From The Current. Sneak Peeks — Apr 25,