BFI Classics: Brief Encounter

Author: Richard Dyer

Before Richard Dyer gets on to the film’s narrative in this fairly short volume for a BFI Classic, he lays out the foundation of how he (and even his mother perhaps) rates this film in words – as both lovely and good. He recalls his first encounter with the film before tackling the its narrative.

He refreshes our memories rather briskly with the narrative from start to end before getting his analytical thoughts going. Then he delves into the feminist angle and in a final chapter “So English” (which is perhaps is self-explanatory) discusses the themes studied within the film. But this section is also where he makes his comparisons to other cinematic treasures.

A film this rich perhaps deserves more time spent on it – especially given the wartime era it’s set in – although Dyer does note the weight and burden of one’s duty to their country and families as he progresses through his many thoughts. He is always economical with his words and to the point, so as not to lose the reader in pulp or jargon – which may explain the 70-odd pages of this book as opposed to the usual 100-page mark the series is more familiar with printing.

This is not the only Dyer BFI Classic (he also penned the one on Seven). Let’s hope it isn’t the last.

Steven Hurst

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