Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Architecture of Railroad Stations in Film

Put this under the categories of "Classic - Necessary, (archetype): Melodrama/Romance/British/Postwar/Realistic/Women's/Tearjerker/Extra-Marital/Middle-Aged/Bittersweet: Trains Stations
"Brief Encounter" 1946

The definitive example of the Railroad Romance, by which I mean the many, usually doomed, romantic dramas that feature the train as a vehicle of separation, which I italicize without irony, of one good and likable character from another. As the local train is such a comprehensive representative symbol of the lives of the British bourgeoisie, with businessmen going into town once a day, housewives going once a week, standing, waiting, having tea, buying a newspaper, all the typical private/public behaviours have as their backdrop the train and its station.

The music, what would have been "popular" music at the time, is Rachmaninoff's Concerto No 2; very romantic. (This happens to be one of the pieces that first attracted me to start paying attention to the classical music I'd been regaled with all my life in the playing of my father in the living room.)
http://www.amazon.com/Tchaikovsky-Concerto-No-Rachmaninoff-2/dp/B000003EUG (scroll down to the Listen To Concerto #2). But what suits the movie so well is that in 1946, the people in the theatre watching this, as well as the characters in the film, would have enjoyed this piece on the radio after dinner. I think there is a scene in which the husband actually turns down the soundtrack as he adjusts his living room radio). This is the piece that Eric Carmen stole outright in his very popular 1976 hit "All By Myself".

Watch the scene where the woman tries, offhand, to reveal to her unsuspecting husband her own sense of guilt - and fails. (She tries to sound suspicious in conversation while he reads the paper). Also the funny scene where the girlfriend on the phone, staring into the mirror, is failing to listen to what the heroine is saying to her).

Though it's full of routines and habits unfamiliar to us, they are shot in such a way as to render them universal - and so very familiar, and thus all the more sympathetic.

The 1984 "Falling in Love" with Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro is a lame near-remake.

Directed by David Lean (of the epic Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Bridge Over River KwaiWritten by Noel Frickin' Coward