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December 2019: A West Country Christmas – Dorset in December

Thomas Hardy’s celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
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Brief Encounter
- favourite film

A film so British that no upper lip is seen in motion through the entire 86 minutes. Perhaps the most British film ever. But for many modern viewers, even those with a historical perspective, so stiflingly middle class and with such lengthy unresolved sexual tension that it becomes like toothache long before the admittedly poignant finale.
Written and produced by Noel Coward (and with him doing the station announcements to boot); directed by the incomparable David Lean , for whom this is a rare intimate film far removed from his more admirable epics; with its stars Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard supported by the likes of Stanley Holloway and Valentine Dyall it is well crafted, beautifully acted, and thanks in part to the location of Carnforth used for the train shots very atmospheric. But try now to watch it – and hear the clipped tones - without thinking of Harry Enfield’s Mr Cholmondley- Warner. And how long before you want to shake the protagonists, however noble their sentiments and loyalties? Or shoot Rachmaninoff for the overdone and overblown music? The simple story of married people falling in love and choosing duty and social convention over that love is universal, but the whole experience now makes it not only a film for rainy November Sundays, but for great chunks feeling like them.

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