David Lean

Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter

After a chance meeting on a train platform, a married doctor (Trevor Howard) and a suburban housewife (Celia Johnson) begin a muted but passionate, and ultimately doomed, love affair. With its evocatively fog-enshrouded setting, swooning Rachmaninoff score, and pair of remarkable performances (Johnson was nominated for an Oscar), this film, directed by David Lean and based on Noël Coward’s play Still Life deftly explores the thrill, pain, and tenderness of an illicit romance, and has influenced many a cinematic brief encounter since its release.

Film Info

  • David Lean
  • United Kingdom
  • 1945
  • 86 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • English
  • Spine #76

Special Features

  • High-definition digital transfer of the BFI National Archive’s 2008 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2000 by film historian Bruce Eder
  • Interview from 2012 with Noël Coward scholar Barry Day
  • A Profile of “Brief Encounter,” a short documentary from 2000 on the making of the film
  • David Lean: A Self Portrait, a 1971 television documentary on Lean’s career
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by historian Kevin Brownlow

Purchase Options

Collector's Sets

Collector's Set

Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films

Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films

DVD Box Set

50 Discs

Ships Nov 8, 2018

$650.00

Collector's Set

David Lean Directs Noël Coward

David Lean Directs Noël Coward

Blu-Ray Box Set

4 Discs

$79.96

Collector's Set

David Lean Directs Noël Coward

David Lean Directs Noël Coward

DVD Box Set

4 Discs

$63.96

Special Features

  • High-definition digital transfer of the BFI National Archive’s 2008 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2000 by film historian Bruce Eder
  • Interview from 2012 with Noël Coward scholar Barry Day
  • A Profile of “Brief Encounter,” a short documentary from 2000 on the making of the film
  • David Lean: A Self Portrait, a 1971 television documentary on Lean’s career
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by historian Kevin Brownlow
Brief Encounter
Cast
Celia Johnson
Laura Jesson
Trevor Howard
Dr. Alec Harvey
Cyril Raymond
Fred Jesson
Stanley Holloway
Albert Godby
Joyce Carey
Myrtle Bagot
Margaret Barton
Beryl Waters
Valentine Dyall
Stephen Lynn
Everley Gregg
Dolly Messiter
Credits
Produced by
Noël Coward
Director
David Lean
From the play Still Life by
Noël Coward
Adapted by
David Lean
Adapted by
Ronald Neame
Adapted by
Anthony Havelock-Allan
Director of photography
Robert Krasker
In charge of production
Anthony Havelock-Allan
In charge of production
Ronald Neame
Art director
L. P. Williams
Film editor
Jack Harris
Music
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2
Played by
Eileen Joyce
Played by
with the National Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by
Muir Mathieson

From The Current

Reintroducing David Lean’s Brief Encounter
Reintroducing David Lean’s Brief Encounter

The filmmaker’s heartbreaking 1945 tale of forbidden love remains one of the screen’s all-time most romantic films.

/
When Noël Met David . . .
When Noël Met David . . .

Coward and Lean? It may not sound as natural as Launder and Gilliat or Powell and Pressburger, perhaps because we don’t instinctively think of Noël Coward as a filmmaker or of David Lean as part of a team. But they were the key creative figures in…

By Ian Christie

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“Riskiest Thing I Ever Did”: Notes on Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter was the fourth and final film that David Lean made in association with Noël Coward. Derived from Still Life, a one-act play which Coward included in the portmanteau Tonight 8:30, the story tells of a suburban housewife, Laura Jesson,

By Adrian Turner

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Flickers of Passion: Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter

Performances

Flickers of Passion: Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter

No one has captured the complexities of forbidden love with more intimacy than Celia Johnson in David Lean’s classic romance.

By Dan Callahan

/
Jenni Olson’s Top 10

Jenni Olson is an acclaimed filmmaker, writer, archivist, LGBT film historian, and online pioneer.


Noël Coward’s Enduring Encounter with Film
Noël Coward’s Enduring Encounter with Film

Celebrated English playwright, actor, screenwriter, and composer Noël Coward brought us many cinema classics, but his relationship with the medium was far from straightforward, as Coward scholar Barry Day explains in a post at Literary Hub.

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André Gregory and Wallace Shawn’s Top 10

Theater directors, filmmakers, writers, actors, and longtime friends André Gregory and Wallace Shawn have collaborated on three movies together: My Dinner with André (1981), Vanya on 42nd Street (1994), and A Master Builder (2014).


Geoff Dyer’s Top 10

The award-winning British author Geoff Dyer has published four novels, three essay collections, and seven works of nonfiction on various topics.


Andrew Loog Oldham’s Top 10

Andrew Loog Oldham was the manager of the Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull from 1963–1967.


Ronald Neame on Brief Encounter’s Ending
Ronald Neame on Brief Encounter’s Ending

He worked on Brief Encounter (as a writer and as part of the production company behind it), but Ronald Neame couldn’t help getting choked up at the ending any more than the rest of us can.

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Noël Coward in New York
Noël Coward in New York

A celebration of one of the great cosmopolites of the twentieth century, in one of the cosmopolises he adored.

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Michael Korda’s Top 10

Author Michael Korda (Charmed Lives: A Family Romance) writes: Few things are more challenging than picking ten favorites out of such a long list of distinguished films.


Explore

David Lean

Director

For many cinephiles, the name David Lean signifies grand moviemaking—sweeping epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. But the long and eclectic career of this legendary British director encompasses arresting intimacy as well, as evidenced by the films of his in the Criterion Collection. Among those are pictures that he was responsible for editing, early on in his work in film: some of his national cinema’s greatest hits, including Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard’s Pygmalion, Gabriel Pascal’s Major Barbara, and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 49th Parallel. In the forties and early fifties, having moved to directing, he made several luminous films, including adaptations of such classic and important contemporary works from the stage and page as Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice, Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit and Still Life (Brief Encounter, in the film version), and Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. All are graced by evocative, shadowy black-and-white cinematography and elegantly restrained compositions. Summertime, his gorgeous 1955 Technicolor trip to Venice with Katharine Hepburn, marked a turning point in his career: the sun-dappled location shoot was galvanizing for Lean, and the remainder of his films, from The Bridge on the River Kwai to A Passage to India, could be considered outdoor spectacles. Yet Lean’s deep interest in complex characters, his brilliant way with actors, and his classic sense of storytelling were never trumped by scale.