by guest writer
Brief Encounter marks one of the few collaborations David Lean had with writer-producer-actor Noël Coward. The writer’s intention for the film was to create a portrait that respects family and stability. The young editor David Lean had been noticed by Noël Coward and afterwards promoted to help direct and later take over directing for In Which We Serve, This Happy Breed and Blithe Spirit, before Brief Encounter.
The movie follows the relationship between Laura (Celia Johnson) and Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) who meet in a railway station. They are both married and trying to resist their passion and the feelings they start having for each other. The film has survived the test of time due to its masterful direction which includes several important aspects: Laura’s narration creates an anguished feeling and at the same time a fairytale impression; wonderful music score and, finally, the acting of the two brilliant British actors. Brief Encounter created a scandal on its release because of its presentation of desire on screen. Although we are speaking of self-denial, shyness and censorship, the movie is a perfect example of how taboo subjects were approached and exhibited with such a subtlety that creates an echo to this day.
photo: still from the film; production credits