Brief Encounter

May 8, 2014 No Comments


First:  It is not to late to join “Marriage and the Movies” through Coursera.

The lectures provided by film theorist Jeanine Basinger have provided wonderful opportunities to explore a wide range of topics centered (of course) around her “I Do, I Don’t” approach to Hollywood’s love affair with love and marriage.

This week’s selection is “Brief Encounter” a 1945 classic directed by David Lean (and written by Noel Coward).  Set in post-war England, it is the story of two  “ordinary” people thrown together by a chance encounter that stirs their desire and passion to a”point of no return.”   It is a pensive movie where much of the passion is conveyed symbolically and via voice over, although the rising Rachmaninoff score fans the flames of our two protagonists, who struggle with the intensity of their feelings.  The recent chaos of the War only strengthens the need for order and calm, yet the barreling engines that race throughout the film underscore the tension created.

Is this a dated concept?  I recommend screening this film with Spike Jonze’s 2013 “Her” before answering that question.  What creates attraction?  How does isolation and repetition create vulnerability?  Can someone fall in love with a stranger?  With an operating system?  Do we have choices?  Both films take a non-ironic look at these questions and actually end up with similar conclusions, despite a 60 year divide.  Both films are wonderful products of their time, capturing the look and feel of the existing culture.

If the tone is too heavy, don’t forget to catch the second film of the “Marriage and the Movies” Week 3 assignment: ” Vivacious Lady” with Jimmy Stewart and Ginger Rogers.  Again, Jeanine Basinger takes us through Hollywood’s exploration of marriage with knowledge, humor and a terrific selection of film clips.

Week 4 opens with the assignment of Hitchcock’s  “Suspicion”

Did I mention that it is not too late to sign up for the course?

See you at the movies!

Jolyn Wagner



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