Brief Encounter (1945)
Brief Encounter (1945)
Brief Encounter (1945)
Brief Encounter (1945)
Brief Encounter (1945)
Brief Encounter (1945)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
Brief Encounter

Tuesday, October 17, 2023, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm  
Instructor: Paul McEwan, Ph.D., Muhlenberg College

Before making epics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago, David Lean directed a series of more intimate films that, though smaller in scale, reveal his talent for depicting the subtleties of human emotion. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that four of these films are based on plays by Noël Coward, one of Britain’s greatest twentieth-century playwrights.

The fourth and strongest of these is Brief Encounter, released in the fall of 1945 to a post-war Britain still suffering the restraints of rationing and rebuilding. Even in a country that prided itself on a stoic stiff upper lip, there is only so long that one can suppress one’s desires. Those desires bubble to the surface in Brief Encounter when a chance meeting between a married woman and a handsome doctor blossoms into a friendship and then potentially into something more.

Nominated for several Oscars including Best Director and Best Actress, the film has been a staple on “best of” lists for decades. In 1999, the British Film Institute ranked it #2 on a list of the best British films of the 20th century, beating several of Lean’s other movies in the top 15. It’s an intimate and intense look at the obligations and emotions that make all of us tick.

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members


  • Tuesday, October 17 · 6:30 pm