Sunday, April 15, 2007

Brief Encounter

I caught the last half-hour or so of Brief Encounter on Film 4 earlier. It was during an idle moment of flicking through TV channels, seeing what was on and I guess I struck lucky with catching the end of one of my favourite films. It is also a film that always makes me cry and true to form I blubbed through every last minute of it. Despite its age, Brief Encounter, I feel is perhaps one of the best if not the best romances of cinema. I know I've said this before but it would be inconceivable that film could be made like this today. It is so quintessentially British, with its reserved, uptight characters with frightfully posh accents and impeccable manners. This though, for me, is what gives Brief Encounter its great pathos and enduring quality. It is the fact that Laura's and Alec's affair is chaste and so dignified that lends such enormous power to every moment of their meeting; those 'special' Thursday afternoons. I am particularly struck by Celia Johnson's portrayal of Laura, a woman in a desperate turmoil, torn between loyalty and her true love. Her restraint is as incredible as it is heartbreaking. This is a woman who so desperately wants to break free but her every moment is a study in self-control and crushing reserve.

The moment that really gets me though, is at the end of the film, when she almost looses it completely and rushes onto the platform with every intention of throwing herself in front of the express. She says something like 'I didn't want to feel anything anymore' and those lines just choke me up every time. The film to me also has a rather sad ending although morally its all very decent and proper; Laura realises the error of her ways and comes back to her worthy but monumentally dull husband. It's a crushing moment, the love of her life has gone and she is back to just the normal, the routine and the hum-drum existence of a housewife.


Yesterday was spent down in London, met up with some of the Groovy Gang and had an enjoyable day in the sun walking around London's docklands - the Isle of Dogs, Milwall and Canary Wharf. Later on we went to Excel, mainly to see where the place was and how easy it is to get too as this will be the venue for Star Wars Celebration Europe in July. After watching the Grand National in a cavernous sized pub that would have been almost empty except for us, we made our way to Greenwich, finding another pub and spent an enjoyable part of the evening having a bite to eat, drinks and talking about all manner of things, from Star Wars (thanks to Joe for bringing along a collection of old comics) to the Watergate investigation and the downfall of Nixon's presidency.

The drinks in the pub and the chat is the best thing for me about any meet up we do. I don't often have anyone to unburden my thoughts on or even to share or engage in conversation with others. There are so many things I have buzzing around sometimes, not usually particularly important or striking, that I am glad I have this blog to off-load some of them.

Oh and the other good bit about yesterday was the various journeys made on the DLR, which since I was introduced to it some 6-7 years ago, has always been a favourite railway experience of mine :-)


jamie said...

sounds like you had a nice day yesterday,and we're sorry we couldn't make it. on the other hand,next time you all come down to ours-perhaps for one of our pool parties?-our hallway/stairs and landing will finally be finished,new carpets and all!!!
never seen brief encounter.

Joe said...

There was actually a 70s remake of Brief Encounter with Sophia Loren and Richard Burton. Not surprisingly it was a bit of a disaster - with DIESEL trains (ugh!) used instead of the nostalgic steam locos. There was also an 80s American version, of sorts, called FALLING IN LOVE with Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro.
Glad you enjoyed your trip to Docklands - not my favourite part of the world, I admit - too sleek - but I enjoyed the drink and the chat, and Greenwich is a lovely place to go to.

Carla said...

I also love 'Brief Encounter'!! And I also cry every single time I watch it. It's the last lines that get me: 'I don't know where you've been, but thank you for coming back to me.' To me, this implies that that dull husband knew more than we might at first suspect. And maybe she's so torn because she's been parted from an intense love but also has an abiding one and not just selfless loyalty.

That's my theory anyway.