I do not understand how a single director knows the human emotional state to such a degree that he can make two such perfect films as Lawrence of Arabia and Brief Encounter. The movie Lawrence, from the early scenes, seem to tap into my inner ideas of heroism and draw them out, expand them and place O'Toole's character right in the heart of it, so that I will never again think about heroism without in some way relating it to this film.
Brief Encounter did the same thing. In different hands, this would have been a simple, even dull tale about a couple's extramarital affair. Instead, he took all my thoughts about tragic love, expands them and I will never forget that this film perfectly reflects it, even drawing me into the emotions of the couple doing what I have never done.
All the emotions are familiar: desire, regret, guilt, joy, denial, hope, yet Lean weaves all these familiar notes into a symphony of such power and tragic beauty that it can never be forgotten. It begins right from the first 15 minutes when we see the end of their affair. We know what is happening, although no one else pays any attention, and the hidden passion burns so brightly, yet it is frozen beneath a sheet of social ice so thick, it is as if the entire Arctic were a bright lantern.
We go through the story, and we feel what they feel and even more so because another couple in a similar situation plays before us, but takes it so lightly, so casually, that we understand the depth of passions of our focused couple. Finally, the entire movie rests on the final scene, all having run through Laura's mind, and her husband walks over and is perfect in a way that cannot be imagined. That's when I lost it and realized that this would be one of my favorite movies of all time.