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Brief Encounter - Criterion Collection
Brief Encounter - Criterion Collection
Actors: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey, Cyril Raymond
Director: David Lean
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
UR     2000     1hr 26min

From NoŽl 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 midd...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey, Cyril Raymond
Director: David Lean
Creators: David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan, Noel Coward, Ronald Neame
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Classics, Military & War
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/27/2000
Original Release Date: 08/24/1946
Theatrical Release Date: 08/24/1946
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 20
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Italian
Subtitles: English
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

(5 out of 5 stars)

"Master director David Lean's reputation undoubtedly consists mostly of his brilliance with his epic panoramas, such as the classics THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, and A PASSAGE TO INDIA. Of course those who look closely in these films will see that Lean chose only the best actors to flesh out real, true characters caught in the midst of overwhelming events--witness Peter O'Toole's vivid characterization of T. E. Lawrence and Peggy Ashcroft's beautiful, indelible Mrs Moore from A PASSAGE TO INDIA. With BRIEF ENCOUNTER, the actors are everything, too. The story is simple--in a very sad, post-WWII London, two married people meet by chance at a (glorious) train station and begin a friendship which slips quickly into love. The depth of their feelings is never in question, as Trevor Howard and the incandescent Celia Johnson portray these feelings honestly and without pretense, clutter, or the manneredness of modern depicitions of love. Whether the characters will be adulterers or not is important to them; they have principles and do truly care for their existing families. Again, they are two ordinary adults in the midst of something overwhelming; how they handle the situation is what gives them grace and dignity. The use of Rachmaninoff's Concerto no. 2 in C minor, especially the adagio section, was a stroke of genius. One cannot hear the piece ever again without imagining a tear streaming from Miss Johnson's large, soulful blue eyes. Fans of romance, classic cinema, or simply great acting should not miss this experience. The DVD transfer is excellent and Criterion should be applauded again for restoring a vital classic to modern audiences."
A film for grown-ups -- genuinely emotionally overwhelming.
RALPH PETERS | 08/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I just read the review of this DVD on and can only conclude the reviewer is relatively young, and certainly not married -- not for any length of time, anyway. He says, "I could enjoy parts of the film, and I could respect the craftsmanship, but I never could develop any real interest in the storyline or the characters."Oh my goodness, I couldn't disagree more. After intentionally waiting to see "Brief Encounter" for many years, I've finally watched it. I'm a married father in my mid-40's. The incredibly profound affection that Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson express for each other is the most convincing portrayal I have ever seen of two people in love. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have a long way to go to convey such feelings, so powerfully. Yet the performances are, in true British fashion, reserved.Frankly, I found its emotionalism so effective, it very nearly brought me to tears. Call it a chick flick if you like, but this is a film for every thinking adult who has ever been conflicted over their affections and devotions. I'm looking forward to watching it again -- this time with my wife!"
Hasn't dated one bit....
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 07/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Critics of this film have said that this film is dated, that the emotions and feelings of Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson are "old school", so to speak. They've said that things were different in the 1940's, and that people wouldn't react this way today. That thinking is highly disingenuous and very naive. Trevor and Celia are married, but having an affair with each other, and they have the normal feelings of guilt and shame. Even today, many people who stray have these same feelings. True, back in the 1940's society was less inclined to understand people like this. However, to say that everyone is OK with adultery nowadays is laughable. And there are others' feelings to take into account here. The affair they have makes them feel joy and love, but also shame and sadness. You think about all you've shared with your spouse over the years, and that sleeping with another person makes you feel that you're being a horrible person. The film isn't "hip" by today's standards, where these people would be mercilessly made fun of. These feelings are universal, and they are not likely to go away anytime soon. I doubt that any director today could make a film like this with such great sensitivity such as David Lean. I love Lean's films, mostly the epics. But I love his "smaller" films as well. Lean fans are usually divided over whether his smaller films are better than his epic ones. I think they're both terrific."
Encounter Brief Encounter
Rudy Avila | Lennox, Ca United States | 05/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."