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Brief Encounter: BFI Film Classics Brief Encounter: BFI Film Classics

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Richard Dyer gives an affectionate, searching and clear-sighted account of David Lean's peculiarly English tale of forbidden love.

Richard Dyer gives an affectionate, searching and clear-sighted account of David Lean's peculiarly English tale of forbidden love.

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'Celia Johnson,' writes Richard Dyer in his affectionate but clear-sighted account of Brief Encounter, 'is probably what most people remember of the film, along with trains and Rachmaninov.' Johnson's performance as Laura, a woman torn between passion and domestic duty, is at the centre of the narrative. Though it's a film made by men, it is the woman's voice we hear recounting the story of a small-town love affair and her renunciation of it. And it is Johnson who most subtly expresses what Dyer calls 'the heartbreakingly touching awkwardness' of the film's emotions.

This emotional restraint, the sense of powerful feelings kept under wraps, is brilliantly described in Dyer's analysis; it is what gives Brief Encounter its peculiarly English feel. And it is also, as he explains, what makes the film speak so directly to a gay audience, for whom the subject – 'forbidden love in ordinary lives' – has a special resonance.

'Celia Johnson,' writes Richard Dyer in his affectionate but clear-sighted account of Brief Encounter, 'is probably what most people remember of the film, along with trains and Rachmaninov.' Johnson's performance as Laura, a woman torn between passion and domestic duty, is at the centre of the narrative. Though it's a film made by men, it is the woman's voice we hear recounting the story of a small-town love affair and her renunciation of it. And it is Johnson who most subtly expresses what Dyer calls 'the heartbreakingly touching awkwardness' of the film's emotions.

This emotional restraint, the sense of powerful feelings kept under wraps, is brilliantly described in Dyer's analysis; it is what gives Brief Encounter its peculiarly English feel. And it is also, as he explains, what makes the film speak so directly to a gay audience, for whom the subject – 'forbidden love in ordinary lives' – has a special resonance.

Additional Info

Additional Info

SKU 9780851703626
Author(s) Richard Dyer
Publisher(s) Palgrave Macmillan , BFI Publishing
Format Paperback
Original publication date 01/11/1993
Number of pages 96

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