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Essential Art House: Brief Encounter (1945)

Celia Johnson , Trevor Howard , David Lean  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey, Cyril Raymond
  • Directors: David Lean
  • Writers: David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan, Noel Coward, Ronald Neame
  • Producers: Anthony Havelock-Allan, Noel Coward, Ronald Neame
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: April 13, 2010
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0035ECHIG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,333 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Essential Art House: Brief Encounter" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

One of cinema’s most timeless love stories, David Lean’s Brief Encounter stars Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson as a married doctor and a housewife who meet one gray evening on a London train platform and embark on a tentative, forbidden romance. Lean directs this exquisite adaptation of a Noël Coward play with his customary precision. In this master filmmaker’s hands, the temporary, guilt-ridden affair is as delicate as a flickering candle.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
139 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE AND HEARTBREAK DONE WITH STYLE AND CLASS. June 28, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Master director David Lean's reputation undoubtedly consists mostly of his brilliance with his epic panoramas, such as the classics THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, and A PASSAGE TO INDIA. Of course those who look closely in these films will see that Lean chose only the best actors to flesh out real, true characters caught in the midst of overwhelming events--witness Peter O'Toole's vivid characterization of T. E. Lawrence and Peggy Ashcroft's beautiful, indelible Mrs Moore from A PASSAGE TO INDIA. With BRIEF ENCOUNTER, the actors are everything, too.
The story is simple--in a very sad, post-WWII London, two married people meet by chance at a (glorious) train station and begin a friendship which slips quickly into love. The depth of their feelings is never in question, as Trevor Howard and the incandescent Celia Johnson portray these feelings honestly and without pretense, clutter, or the manneredness of modern depicitions of love. Whether the characters will be adulterers or not is important to them; they have principles and do truly care for their existing families. Again, they are two ordinary adults in the midst of something overwhelming; how they handle the situation is what gives them grace and dignity. The use of Rachmaninoff's Concerto no. 2 in C minor, especially the adagio section, was a stroke of genius. One cannot hear the piece ever again without imagining a tear streaming from Miss Johnson's large, soulful blue eyes. Fans of romance, classic cinema, or simply great acting should not miss this experience. The DVD transfer is excellent and Criterion should be applauded again for restoring a vital classic to modern audiences.
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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I just read the review of this DVD on and can only conclude the reviewer is relatively young, and certainly not married -- not for any length of time, anyway. He says, "I could enjoy parts of the film, and I could respect the craftsmanship, but I never could develop any real interest in the storyline or the characters."
Oh my goodness, I couldn't disagree more. After intentionally waiting to see "Brief Encounter" for many years, I've finally watched it. I'm a married father in my mid-40's.
The incredibly profound affection that Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson express for each other is the most convincing portrayal I have ever seen of two people in love. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have a long way to go to convey such feelings, so powerfully. Yet the performances are, in true British fashion, reserved.
Frankly, I found its emotionalism so effective, it very nearly brought me to tears. Call it a chick flick if you like, but this is a film for every thinking adult who has ever been conflicted over their affections and devotions. I'm looking forward to watching it again -- this time with my wife!
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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hasn't dated one bit.... July 25, 2006
Critics of this film have said that this film is dated, that the emotions and feelings of Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson are "old school", so to speak. They've said that things were different in the 1940's, and that people wouldn't react this way today. That thinking is highly disingenuous and very naive. Trevor and Celia are married, but having an affair with each other, and they have the normal feelings of guilt and shame. Even today, many people who stray have these same feelings. True, back in the 1940's society was less inclined to understand people like this. However, to say that everyone is OK with adultery nowadays is laughable. And there are others' feelings to take into account here. The affair they have makes them feel joy and love, but also shame and sadness. You think about all you've shared with your spouse over the years, and that sleeping with another person makes you feel that you're being a horrible person. The film isn't "hip" by today's standards, where these people would be mercilessly made fun of. These feelings are universal, and they are not likely to go away anytime soon. I doubt that any director today could make a film like this with such great sensitivity such as David Lean. I love Lean's films, mostly the epics. But I love his "smaller" films as well. Lean fans are usually divided over whether his smaller films are better than his epic ones. I think they're both terrific.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Lean's well kept secret. June 28, 2001
When you hear the name: David Lean, one will probably think LAWRENCE, Bridge on the River Kwai, etc...never Brief Encounter. I am not saying that Lean's other films are bad...they are excellent but Brief Encounter is different. It is his best film, as far as I am concerned. I am huge film fan. I cannot usually watch movies two days in a row, but I could watch this one every day of the year. This film is perfect in every way. Noel Coward is a brilliant screenwriter and this is one of the best screenplays ever writen. This film was voted 2nd best British film ever made under The Third Man (which I also love and Trevor Howard was also in). I am shocked that this was left off of the AFI List...a film of such perfection is so rare and underrated that it is sad that this beautiful film has been viewed by so few. Sparkling, moving preformaces given by both Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. I love Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, but only the version in this film. I loacted a CD on this website with this version on it. It was done by Eileen Joyce. Search for her name under music and you should find it. Celia Johnson was very convincing and her voiceovers and facial expressions were superb. The way the start the film out at the end and she retells the story is brilliant. The editing is even perfect. This film is very seems as if David Lean just went out and found some two average nobody's and filmed it. This isn't like Rita Hayworth and Cary Grant in some Hollywood love story. It captures the time beautifully and how people used to have higher standards & actually cared about their families, unlike the vulgar times of now..for example, look at Titanic...enough said. I love the cinematography... Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars you will absolutely love this movie
Time to get your hankies and Kleenex out! I saw this black-and-white film noir movie years and years ago, and it resonated within me for so many years afterward. Read more
Published 2 days ago by PB
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Perfect. Thank you
Published 5 days ago by peter forster
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic movie.
Published 10 days ago by Etta
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful movie. It is a morality play that shows ...
This is a wonderful movie. It is a morality play that shows the true nature of infidelity. Yes, a lovely love story, but the whole sneaking around thing is shown s being tacky. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Barb Richie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
If this isn't the most wonderful small movie ever made, I don't know what is.
Published 1 month ago by Joseph V. Salzano
5.0 out of 5 stars Universality strikes again!
An excellent film. Five stars. So much to think about, especially how foolish we all become about what we call romance in our lives.
Published 2 months ago by Bren
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What a great dramatic tragedy .... I never get tired of watching this film.
Published 2 months ago by Lamar T. Winers
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is the most charming movie I have seen!
Published 3 months ago by annette
5.0 out of 5 stars Romance, with a twist...
It’s funny to me how having absolutely no foreknowledge of a particular film can shape the way you actually are able to take it all in. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andrew Ellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I absolutely love this movie!
Published 3 months ago by Janie Shelton
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