Ahead of a talk on David Lean in school I decided to brush up on his work, starting with This Happy Breed. Written by Noel Coward it follows the working class Gibbons family from 1914 to 1944, all the way up to the year of the film’s release. The family go through love and war, marriage, babies and the pains of lost children. An incredibly sweet story, Lean alludes to the emotions of each character in sensitive and touching ways, never talking down to his audience. It’s funny too, particularly the dialogue between widowed Sylvia and her mother. The characters are sharply written and are easily identified with, making this film perfect to watch with your own family.
Next was Brief Encounter, the film Lean made a year later which forever created an air of romance around train stations. The film is told in the voice of Laura as she envisages telling her husband about the man she has fallen in love with, a doctor that she met as she journeyed home.
A very British tale of upper class love and the constraints of societal marriage, the film is romance heavy something which may find tiring. But it’s refreshing to see a romance blossom through conversation and shared jokes rather than through physical attraction or pained and longing glances. The train station scenes have a lovely look to them and overall the film is enjoyable.
Definitely a British classic, Brief Encounter is perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon but it’s This Happy Breed’s characters and story which have a lasting impact.