To celebrate the outstanding achievements of the British Film industry, Time Out Live have launched Time Out’s Film Club – a series of exclusive screenings of films from the 100 Best British Films, at the Cineworld Haymarket in London. These special screenings will feature introductions from the likes of actors Jonathan Pryce (‘Pirates of the Caribbean’) and David Morrissey (‘Doctor Who’).
Sion Hughes Carew, LDNISTA Arts critic, attended a recent screening of Brief Encounter, which was introduced by Sally Hawkins. He writes:
To misquote Alec Harvey a little, “The stars can change in their courses, the universe go up in flames and the world crash around us, but there will always be Brief Encounter”. As I, who once spent an entire half-term transcribing the film to paper, sat there quoting it to myself, sitting amongst what seemed to be an audience made up entirely of couples, I began to realise just how special this film really is.
Dave Calhoun, Film Editor of Time Out magazine, introduced the movie. It had ranked twelfth in the Time Out Live’s Film Club – ‘a series of screenings from the 100 Best British Films, as chosen by a panel of film industry experts’. One of these experts was the actress Sally Hawkins, who explained why Brief Encounter is one of her favourite films of all time. Having come to it late, ‘via the words’ at RADA, she realised that subtext was what drove the film. While she initially considered it simplistic, she came in time to appreciate the repressed passion and sexiness which simmers constantly just under the surface.
While style, society and accents may have moved on somewhat since 1945, much still rings true. The repression of feeling, self-delusion, and the conflict of desire and responsibility – all conspire to make us sympathise with Laura, in spite, or even because, of her behaving “like a romantic schoolgirl, like a romantic fool.” Sally Hawkins puts the film’s enduring popularity down to it’s being ‘a classic story told well – like Austen.’ Her favourite moment, she revealed, is the final scene between Alec and Laura (which is also the first scene of the film), where “Poor, well-meaning, irritating Dolly Messiter (crashes) into those last few precious minutes we had together.” It is heartbreaking: the couple sitting, waiting for the arrival of the train that will take Alec away forever; their last contact being the pressure of his hand on her shoulder for a split second, “And then he walked away, away out of my life forever.”
Brief Encounter is undoubtedly one of the best films of all time, and richly deserves Time Out’s accolade. It is by turns quite roaringly funny and bitterly sad, yet never spills over into melodrama. I am delighted it has received this recognition, and only hope that the judges’ other selections can measure up to it. This will be a thrilling season of films.
Find out more about Time Out Live’s Film Club, and book tickets for exclusive screenings at the following link: