Our DVD rental queue doesn't just have a list of the films we missed at the cinema in it. I've consciously added classic films from before my time or widely acknowledged films from outside our filmic comfort zone. So last night we sat down to watch the classic romantic weepy Brief Encounter.
The thing I found most interesting about it was how it contrasts to life today and throws a light on attitudes and morals in previous generations. The first scene has a station ticket man crossing from the opposite platform across the train tracks and my first thought was a semi-outraged "you can't do that!" before reminding myself there was a time where peoples first thought wasn't automatically that of Health and Safety. The language of Noel Coward was immediately noticeable with every line delivered in precise clear Queens English, a marked contrast to shows like the excellent The Wire where it usually takes a me a few episodes to understand what a number of protagonists are actually saying. Other stereotypes that are hard to find resonance nowadays is the general "weakness" and predilection to hysterics and faintness for the female character. Near the end of the film when the would-be lovers decide to part the man states he will be moving his family to Africa in two weeks, although he has yet to tell his wife. There is no hint there would be a discussion about the family move in a society where it was still the mans prerogative to make the real decisions.
However for all the jarring contrasts that make it hard to envisage how you could remake such a story in a modern context it still remains a good film. The acting is excellent, especially Celia Johnson's expressive body language which often says more than the words. The camera work and setting is all very well handled and captures the mood of the film very well. If your a fan of cinema and haven't seen it I can say it is well worth while.