Saturday, January 19, 2013

Brief Encounter (1945)

WHO: David Lean directed it.

WHAT: This is what André Bazin had to say about this 1945 film in his 1949 review of The Bicycle Thief (though a few years later he recanted the paragraph and it is sometimes omitted from translations today): 
A film like Brief Encounter would probably have been impossible without the ten years of preparation by Grierson, Cavalcanti, or Rotha. But the English, instead of breaking with the technique and the history of European and American cinema, have succeeded in combining a highly refined aestheticism with the advances of a certain realism. Nothing could be more tightly structured, more carefully prepared, than Brief Encounter--- nothing less conceivable without the most up-to-date studio resources, without clever and established actors; yet can we imagine a more realistic portrait of English manners and psychology?
WHERE/WHEN: At the Vogue Theatre as part of the Mostly British Film Festival, at 2:30 PM,

WHY: It's very pleasant to see crowds at the 100-year-old single-screen Vogue Theatre at the Mostly British Film Festival, an annual spotlight on foreign films from the UK and certain current (Australia, South Africa) and former (Ireland) members of the Commonwealth of Nations. A good portion of these selections, including all of today's programs, are being shown in 35mm prints (check the Bay Area Film Calendar for details on the others). If you've never seen Brief Encounter with an audience, this is a rather rare opportunity to do so.

HOW: As suggested above, in 35mm. I'm hoping the Vogue will find a better solution for screening Academy-ratio film prints (another Lean film, This Happy Breed, today at noon for instance) than it used for last night's screening of Carol Reed's 1947 Odd Man Out, which was improperly masked as if a widescreen film- though it still retained much of its cinematic power in the wrong aspect ratio.


  1. Too bad they messed up the aspect ratio. I had Brief Encounter spoiled for me, when I first saw in the mid 1960s at the Art Cinema in Boulder, by a young couple who laughed and snickered their way through, It was the time and that kind of stiff upper lip reticence didn't fit with the 60s. About 15 years later when I met Pauline Kael
    she told me they were right to make fun of the film!

  2. It seems to have a real love-it-or-hate-it reputation. David Thomson doesn't seem to know what to do with it in his latest book.