How do you rate one of your earlier, small budget films, Brief Encounter?
David Lean: I still have an affection for Brief Encounter. I have never really got over it. We started making Great Expectations when it came out, and I had the first print during our location work on Romney marshes. We got it down to the local cinema and screened it as a sneak preview. It started; and during the first love scene a woman in the front row started laughing, a terrible cackling chicken’s laugh. Then everyone else in the cinema started to laugh. And every love scene that came up, the woman started to laugh and the whole cinema was rolling in aisles. I went back in the evening wondering how I could get into Denham Laboratories and burn the negative. I was so terribly ashamed of my work. So every time anyone mentions Brief Encounter I think “Oh yes, very nice in the art houses but what the hell happened out of town?” A lesson in humility may be good for everybody; but I didn’t need a lesson in humility in those days, I was a very frightened young man.
David Lean in an interview1
- 1. Steven Organ (ed.), David Lean: Interviews (Jackson: University of Mississipi Press, 2009), 11-12.[/fn]